State police on Thursday widened their investigation of possible voter registration fraud in Pennsylvania, raiding the Philadelphia office of a grassroots organization that works with Democrats, while election officials in the suburbs questioned the validity of thousands of last-minute applications submitted by the company.
The state probe involves voter registrations gathered by Washington, D.C.-based FieldWorks LLC, a 15-year-old company that has worked with a wide range of Democratic and progressive groups around the country.
State police arrived at FieldWorks' Philadelphia office with a search warrant Thursday night, less than a week after raiding the company's location in suburban Delaware County, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In court papers, agents said they were looking for evidence of "fraudulent voter registration forms."
The Delaware County Voter Registration Commission, meanwhile, scheduled a hearing for Friday to determine whether applications gathered by FieldWorks were submitted by an Oct. 11 state deadline to register for next week's election. The applications were rife with errors, election officials said.
"We are trying to get to the bottom of whether these should be on the (voter) rolls or not," Delaware County Solicitor Michael Maddren said Thursday.
FieldWorks submitted 7,000 voter registration applications to the Pennsylvania Department of State, which sent them in batches to Delaware County on Oct. 14 and 17 without providing any evidence they had been turned in on time, Maddren said.
"We have a real issue on our hands," he said. "We've asked the Department of State to appear and explain themselves" at the commission hearing.
Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren insisted FieldWorks had submitted the applications by Oct. 11.
"If they were not timely received or postmarked, we would not send them to any county," she said in a statement.
While Friday's hearing will focus on the applications' timeliness, FieldWorks also faces questions about its canvassers.
An ongoing review by Delaware County election officials has revealed problems with hundreds of applications, from addresses that don't exist to Social Security numbers or driver's license numbers that don't match. Some voters were registered multiple times — one woman appeared on nine applications.
A warrant obtained for last week's state police search in Delaware County noted agents were looking for "any templates (physical or electronic) utilized to construct fraudulent voter registration forms," and evidence the same voters appeared on multiple registration forms.
In a statement issued before the Thursday raid, FieldWorks spokesman Matt Dorf said the company "has the most rigorous quality controls in the industry and zero tolerance for fraud."
FieldWorks is cooperating with local officials and "will work aggressively with authorities to seek the prosecution of anyone involved in wrongdoing," he said.
The apparent irregularities had Republicans crying foul.
Republican U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, whose district includes Delaware County, wrote to the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday to demand an investigation of FieldWorks.
Some of the applications "are not only clearly suspect, but they are criminal," Meehan said in an interview.
Authorities have not said whether they believe there was an attempt to influence election results, or whether the irregularities were the work of paid canvassers looking to inflate their numbers and thus their paychecks.
Records show Democrats have been more successful than Republicans in registering voters in Delaware County this election cycle. More than 20,000 people have either newly registered to vote as Democrats or changed their party affiliation to Democrat this year, compared with fewer than 12,000 new Republicans, state statistics show.
As a result, Democrats have expanded their registration edge to nearly 18,000 in the county of 413,000 voters.
It's not clear who FieldWorks has been working for in Philadelphia and Delaware County. Nationally, its clients include the Democratic National Committee, statewide Democratic Party organizations, unions and abortion-rights groups.