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'Obama' voter registration card in Butler County leads to investigation

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Butler County discovered it issued a voter registration card in 2008 bearing a name just one letter different from Barack Obama's, even though a fact check showed the application contained bogus information, officials said.

County detectives are trying to track down the applicant, who could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor, including perjury and making a false affidavit, which are punishable with jail time and fines, Butler County Detective Scott Roskovski said.

Butler County Jury Commissioner Jon Galante discovered the fake registration last week when a questionnaire used to find potential jurors was addressed to be sent to “Barack H. Obana” at a Slippery Rock University address. Voter registration lists are one tool used to build lists of potential jurors.

Roskovski said he sent information about the fake voter registration to the Secret Service, but he admitted there's little chance of finding who filled out the form, which he said likely was a college prank.

“It shows the bigger picture of how easy voter fraud can be,” Roskovski said.

Elections Bureau Director Shari Brewer, who wasn't election director in 2008, said no one attempted to vote using the fake card.

A state database lists the name on the voter registration card as Barack H. Obana, with a 1981 birthdate. A check determined the phone number and driver's license number on the application were fake, Brewer said.

The election bureau issued the card anyway because state law requires cards to be issued even if information, such as birthdates or Social Security numbers, is found to be incorrect, Brewer said on Tuesday.

The Department of State disputed that claim.

“If due diligence leaves you dubious, you have the authority of the county to accept or reject that,” Pennsylvania Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said.

“When this was approved, it was right before the close of registration,” Brewer said. “It was a presidential election, and we would have been swamped with registrations.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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