Scam registers college voters as Republican

Daniella Cheslow

In September Jennifer Fugo, a student at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, signed what she thought was a petition to legalize medical marijuana.

The young man collecting signatures asked her to fill a voter registration card to verify her identity. But in mid-October, Fugo, 24, received a Republican voter registration card.

“It’s disturbing that there are people in the area who would try to tamper with votes,” said Fugo, a continuing education student studying design.

Days later the Office of Student Affairs at the college sent an e-mail to the college community, encouraging students to report similar incidents to the Office of Public Safety.

The scam at the college has been repeated on several other campuses in Pennsylvania and Florida, according to the Associated Press and recent articles in Pennsylvania and Florida newspapers. No cases of registration fraud have been reported at Northwestern, according to College Democrats and Republicans representatives.

Erik Strobl, 20, a student at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, also signed a medicinal marijuana petition and was registered as a Republican. He called the Indiana County Courthouse, wrote letters to his student newspaper and contacted prominent Democrats in Pennsylvania, he said.

Registered Republicans can vote Democrat, but the scam nonetheless is infuriating students in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

According to Adam Gattuso, executive director of Montgomery County Republicans, registering voters in Pennsylvania is easy.

“You could come in (my office) and grab a thousand registration cards,” he said. “Anyone can register anyone.”

Before collecting voter information, registrars in Cook County must participate in a training session.

“Some of the people who signed the petition probably weren’t registered to vote, so getting them registered is a good thing,” said College Republicans Vice President Ben Snyder, a Weinberg junior. “It seems really bizarre to me because changing what party someone is has no bearing on the election.”

Because her registration card arrived in mid-October, Fugo of Montgomery College was not able to re-register as a Democrat, she said.

“I may just change to be an Independent,” she said. “I help out the Democratic party and I support their cause, but this whole system is disappointing. When you manipulate one vote, you destroy confidence in the whole system.”

Reach Daniella Cheslow at [email protected].