Sproul is a Republican consultant who has been investigated in the past for voter fraud in other states. Petti said those investigations turned up no evidence of fraud.
Miami-Dade elections officials said they noticed similar handwriting in voter registration applications that were turned in by the Republican Party of Florida, as well as other entities. All the suspected forms were sent to the Florida Division of Elections for review. The deadline to register for the Nov. 6 election is Oct. 9.
Because RNC and RPOF officials wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the contract with Strategic Allied Consulting, it’s unclear how employees registering voters were paid.
The ability of officials to track back registration applications to their source is an ironic twist to an election year that has been dominated by talk of voter fraud.
Republicans in the Florida Legislature, inspired by successful Democratic registration drives by groups like ACORN that they likened to fraud, pushed through a controversial and sweeping elections law during the 2011 session.
The law required third-party organizations to register with the state and created a database that would help track new registration forms back to the group that submitted them. The bill also limited the amount of days that can be used for early voting, required people who change their address at the polls to use provisional ballots and required third-party groups to turn in registration forms within 48 hours or face hefty fines.
Republicans argued the bill was needed to reduce voter fraud, even though there was scant evidence of any in Florida.
A host of lawsuits were filed in response to the new elections law, although most of the provisions have been upheld. One that didn’t stick: the 48-hour registration requirement.
It’s because of the law that Florida supervisors of elections know instantly if a voter registration form was turned in by a third-party organization and, if so, which one.
“Before that law, there would be no way to know where these voter registrations were coming from,” Cate said.
Times staff researcher Carolyn Edds and Herald/Times staff writers Steve Bousquet and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.