By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Petaluma has asked the secretary of state’s office to investigate potential voter fraud after it was discovered that four police officers used the Police Department address when they registered.
Election law requires voters to register by their place of residence.
After being alerted of the registrations by the blog of a campaign precinct walker, county Registrar of Voters Janice Atkinson suspended the officers’ right to vote, then contacted them to investigate.
She said three changed their address to reflect their residences, which are in Petaluma. They will be allowed to vote in the Nov. 2 election. A fourth, who no longer works for the department, could not be contacted, she said.
Petaluma City Manager John Brown advised council members in an e-mail that the city had asked the secretary of state’s voter fraud division to investigate. It can take between 7 to 10 days to determine whether a formal investigation is launched.
“It is very likely that they will investigate this case,” Brown wrote. Results would be sent to the county district attorney, who would decide if there is enough evidence to prosecute.
All of the possible violations are felonies, Brown wrote: fraudulent registration, fraudulent document filing and perjury. Fraudulent voting also could be charged if it is determined that any of the officers cast votes outside their voting jurisdiction. A violation of election law requires the intent to commit fraud.
Whether the city conducts an internal investigation will be determined by the secretary of state’s findings.