Californian who registered voters charged with fraud

LOS ANGELES Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:32pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The owner of a company hired by the California Republican Party to register voters was arrested over the weekend on charges of voter registration fraud and perjury, officials said on Monday.

Mark Jacoby is accused of fraudulently registering himself to vote at a Los Angeles address where he no longer resides -- his boyhood home -- to meet a state law requiring all signature gatherers to register or be eligible to vote in California.

He did this twice, in 2006 and 2007, according to a statement issued by the California secretary of state, Debra Bowen. A spokeswoman for Bowen said investigators found the home at the address where he registered was no longer owned by Jacoby's family.

Authorities also are investigating complaints that Jacoby's company, Young Political Majors, or YPM, improperly registered voters as Republicans, said Ed Miller, a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that dozens of voters claimed they had been duped by YPM employees into switching parties and registering as Republicans when they were asked to sign a petition seeking tougher penalties against child molesters.

"We're confident that the charges will be dropped and his name will be cleared," said Jacoby's lawyer, Dan Goldfine.

He said Jacoby, who is in his 20s, travels frequently but always returns to California, where his mother keeps a permanent home that Jacoby treats as his own residence.

The California Republican Party, which pays YPM a fee of $7 to $12 for each registration it secures, issued a statement calling the charges against Jacoby "politically motivated." Bowen, the state's chief elections officer, is a Democrat.

On October 3, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office charged Jacoby with two counts of voter registration fraud and two counts of perjury, and issued a warrant for his arrest.

He was taken into custody late Saturday, but his lawyer said he was released on bail on Sunday.

Under California law, anyone convicted of registering to vote who is not entitled to do so faces a penalty of up to three years in prison, and it is perjury to provide false information on a voter registration card.

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