PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - The West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office now says they have found additional people whose signatures were fraudulently submitted during early voting for the mayoral election.
Late last week the Sheriff's Office and the Secretary of State began their voter fraud investigation.
They're looking into hundreds of applications that were faxed into the West Baton Rouge Registrar for early voting. The applications are a "request for mail-in ballot," and request the Registrar of Voter to send a mail-in ballot.
Voters are allowed to submit absentee ballots through various ways. One of them includes faxing in an application. Once Registrar Stacy Ryan receives the application, she has to verify all the information on the application with all the information on file for that particular voter, especially the signature. If something does not match up, Ryan denies the application. If everything does match, Ryan then mails out a ballot for early voting.
West Baton Rouge Sheriff Office's Col. Richie Johnson did not specify exactly how many ballots were in question or who sent them, but he did say they launched their investigation late Thursday into ballots that have been submitted since early voting began.
Early voting for the April 5 mayoral election began Saturday, March 22 and ended Saturday, March 29.
Officials say this is the second highest turnout for early voting in Port Allen's history. The highest turnout was for the mayoral recall election last November.
So far, 1,410 votes have been cast for mail-in and early voting. The West Baton Rouge Registrar is still accepting mail-in ballots until Friday at 4:30 p.m.
There are 4,035 total registered voters in Port Allen, which means 36 percent of all registered voters have already voted. Compared to early voting for the recall election last year in November, back then, 42 percent of all registered voters (1,712) cast an early vote.
Johnson says what flagged investigators was the number of people faxing in requests. Also, he said when someone went to cast a ballot for early voting, he was told he could not vote because Ryan had already received his vote by mail. Johnson added at least one of the hundreds of faxed in ballots allegedly is connected to the Deedy Slaughter's camp.
Former Mayor Deedy Slaughter was recalled, and she is one of four candidates running for the office.
When WAFB's Kiran Chawla asked Slaughter if anyone from her camp faxed applications, she replied, "Nope." Instead, she said, "I received a number of complaints from senior citizens and other voters of Port Allen who were contacted by sheriff's deputies, and they were asked if their signatures were on the early voting forms. They replied to the deputies that not only did they sign the early voting forms, but that most of them had two witnesses on each form," said Slaughter. Slaughter alleged the deputies were asking voters if they voted for Deedy Slaughter.
Johnson responded, "That's just silly." He added two detectives were sent out to verify signatures that were submitted and rejected by Ryan, but never asked any voter who they voted for.
Slaughter told WAFB that the Sheriff's Office released false claims to suppress and intimidate the voters. Slaughter says she is in the process of filing an official complaint with the United States Dept. of Justice concerning voting intimidation and suppression.