Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

ATTN: California. Vote No on Hate — No on Prop 8

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on November 2, 2008

Pass along to friends. Watch the video here.

California’s Propositions

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on October 29, 2008

I’m posting this here for my California readers. Apparently, there’s some deception going on as indicated in the email I received below. Hope this clears up any confusion. Please forward it to California-based friends.

On a side note, I’m sure you’re familiar with Prop 4 here in california…I keep seeing signs that say “stop child predators”, vote yes on 4. I find it so horrible how the religious movement is completely misleading their followers. Also, if churches want to get involved with politics and hand out political signs, they should loose their tax rights…maybe I’m crazy, but it seems fucked up.

Proposition 1A   

What it does: Authorizes $9.95 billion in bonds to build an electric train to get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just over 2 1/2 hours.

Back story: This is the governor’s and the Legislature’s baby, years in the making. They pulled similar measures off ballots in 2004 and 2006 because the stars didn’t align for a win. An earlier version (Proposition 1) also got pulled from the 2008 ballot, this time for a revise (that’s why it’s now designated 1A). Lawmakers were arguing aboutamong other things, whether the train would run through Altamont Pass (the site of a deadly 1969 Rolling Stones concert) or Pacheco Pass (site of the hokey but fun tourist stop Casa de Fruta). They went with Pacheco.   

Proposition 2

What it does: Bars use of pens and cages that don’t give farm animals room to turn around, stretch, stand or lie down.

Back story: This is all about chickens. The language on veal calves and sows tugs on voters’ heartstrings, but it’s moot; California produces virtually no commercial pork or veal. Chief opponents — egg producers — argue that without tight cages, their chickens will eat each other and their own droppings. No matter what, the caged chickens are doomed: After a short life laying eggs, they are too spent even for the soup pot.

Proposition 3

What it does: Authorizes the sale of $980 million in bonds to upgrade and expand children’s hospitals in California.

Back story: With interest, the measure would cost about $2 billion over 30 years. Backers are (no surprise) the state’s children’s hospitals. California voters authorized $750 million in bonds for this cause in 2004; just under half of those bonds have yet to be sold. But how can voters say no to sick kids?

Proposition 4

What it does: Amends the state Constitution to require a physician to notify a minor patient’s parent or other adult family member 48 hours before performing an abortion.

Back story: Déjà vu. Californians defeated parental consent or notification for abortion measures in 2005 and 2006, but had last year off. (There is no limit on how often failed ballot measures may be resubmitted to voters.) Proposition 4 adds the “other adult family member” alternative to answer critics of earlier propositions. It also would require a girl who chooses that alternative to allege parental abuse. The Legislature passed a parental consent law in 1987, but it never took effect. The state Supreme Court upheld it in 1996, but on rehearing — after court membership changed — struck it down. Which is why Proposition 4 is a constitutional amendment.

Proposition 5

What it does: Mandates probation with treatment instead of jail or prison for many drug crimes and diminishes sentences and shortens parole for many nonviolent property crimes when drugs are involved.

Back story: This measure pits two well-known liberals against each other — activist and actor Martin Sheen and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Sheen, whose son Charlie had high-profile drug problems in the 1990s, leads the opposition because, he has said, “successful rehabilitation requires accountability.” Soros and former Soros executive Jacob Goldfied are Proposition 5’s top financial backers. If voters pass Proposition 5 and Proposition 6, they would simultaneously loosen and stiffen penalties for drug offenses.

Proposition 6

What it does: Commits close to 1% of the state’s annual general fund budget for anti-crime programs. The state Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates costs of $500 million for additional prison space.

Back story: This is the Son of Three Strikes and Jessica’s Law. It’s sponsored in part by Mike Reynolds, author of the 1994 Three Strikes Initiative, and state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), whose anti-sex-offender Proposition 83 — Jessica’s Law — won 71% of the vote in 2006. The top donor is Henry T. Nicholas III, who gave $1 million (see Proposition 9).

Proposition 7

What it does: Increases the clean-generation requirement on investor-owned utilities and extends them to municipal companies, like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Back story: The primary backer (with a donation of $3 million) is Peter Sperling, son of University of Phoenix founder, cat-cloner and octogenarian liberal proposition-meister John Sperling (who in 2000 gave California Proposition 36, mandating treatment instead of prison for drug convictions, a failed initiative to soften three strikes, and several others besides). Caveat for green voters: This measure is intended to advance green power and improve the environment but is opposed by a host of high-profile environmental groups, who say it will undermine many green-power efforts.

Proposition 8

What it does: Outlaws same-sex marriage by adding the following words to the state Constitution: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Back story: More déjà vu. Californians expressly outlawed same-sex marriage in a voter initiative in 2000. But that was mere law, which the state Supreme Court struck down earlier this year in a case that found that the right to marry is fundamental — the state can’t deny marriage to a couple based on their sex. Proposition 8 opponents tried (but failed) to get the court to also strike the measure from the ballot on the argument that voters cannot strip citizens of their state constitutional rights. If the initiative passes, they will be back.

Proposition 9

What it does: Amends the state Constitution to give enforceable rights to the families of crime victims.

Back story: This is the centerpiece of a law-and-order campaign by billionaire businessman and engineer Henry T. Nicholas III and is called “Marsy’s Law” in memory of his murdered sister. It qualified for the ballot on June 6 — the day after indictments were unsealed against Nicholas for a variety of drug charges and for allegedly violating securities laws. Nicholas gave $4.8 million to the campaign but distanced himself after the charges against him were reported. Among other things, Proposition 9 would limit the number of chances for parole for many convicted criminals.

Proposition 10

What it does: Authorizes the sale of $5 billion in bonds ($9.8 billion when interest is included) to provide rebates to buyers of natural gas and other alternative fuel vehicles.

Back story: Uncle T. Boone Pickens wants you: The Texas oilman is underwriting Proposition 10, which will likely drum up buyers for cars that run on natural gas. His company, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., produces and markets … natural gas.

Proposition 11

What it does: Strips the Legislature of its power to draw the lines of Assembly and Senate districts (every 10 years, after new census figures come out) and turns the job over to a 14-member citizens’ commission.

Back story: Do Californians care that most of the time district boundaries are drawn to consolidate incumbent power? If they do, why did they reject reform in 2005 and eight times before that? In a political sop to Nancy Pelosi, this measure leaves out congressional districts — a fact that has alienated some Republicans. Minority advocates are alienated because there is no guarantee that anyone on the commission will speak for their constituents.

Proposition 12

What it does: Authorizes a bond to extend a state program allowing veterans access to low-interest mortgages.

Back story: The 27th time’s a charm: Voters have already approved bonds for Cal-Vet mortgages 26 times since the program was established for World War I veterans in 1921. Opposition is hard to come by — the “con” ballot argument was written by Gary B. Wesley, a Mountain View lawyer who for many years has taken for himself the task of writing against measures when no one else will. The current Cal-Vet program only covers veterans who served before 1977.

Robert Greene is a member of The Times’ editorial board. See Vote-o-rama (latimes.com/elections) for an opinionated guide to the propositions and everything else on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Gay Marriage in Peril in California

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on October 22, 2008

Wall Street Journal

A state ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California is gaining momentum, with polls showing almost even odds of it passing after trailing by double digits a month ago.

Prop8In June, the state legalized same-sex marriages. The next month, Proposition 8, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, was put on the ballot for November. Initial polling showed that a majority of Californians were likely to vote against Proposition 8. A Sept. 18 poll by the San Francisco-based Field Poll found the measure losing 55% to 38% among likely voters.

But now the measure is favored 48% to 45% among likely voters questioned in an Oct. 17 poll by Survey USA of Verona, N.J. The poll’s margin of error, four percentage points, means the results were a statistical tie.

A group leading the fight against the measure, Equality for All, said this week that one of its internal polls shows Proposition 8 leading by four percentage points. The close results of that poll, too, may suggest a dead heat as the Nov. 4 election approaches.

“The outcome will be close because Californians are evenly divided on gay marriage,” said Mark Baldassare, chief executive of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco. A new poll by the institute, due out late Wednesday, is expected to show a tight race. The measure needs a simple majority vote to pass.

Proposition 8 was initiated after the state’s Supreme Court said in May that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, paving the way for the legalization of gay marriage in California starting June 17. Same-sex marriages are also legal in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The issue has come up in the presidential campaign, with Republican Sen. John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, suggesting this week that she would support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage nationwide. The outcome of California’s battle could affect whether states move to recognize gay marriages.

Supporters of Proposition 8 have gained ground by capitalizing on their opponents’ missteps. They have been running a television ad for several weeks that shows San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom delivering a boisterous response to a throng of supporters after the state Supreme Court ruling. “The door’s wide open now. It’s going to happen, whether you like it or not,” the Democratic mayor says loudly.

“Gavin Newsom has been a great player on our team,” said Sonja Eddings Brown, spokeswoman for Protect Marriage California, a group that has been leading the “Yes on 8” campaign.

Pollsters say that fueling the rise in support for Proposition 8 is an advertising blitz heavily bankrolled by the Mormon Church, which suggests, among other things, that if Proposition 8 doesn’t pass then schoolchildren will be indoctrinated about gay marriage.

Between 30% and 40% of the $25.5 million in donations raised as of last week by the “Yes” campaign has come from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supporters of the measure say. “Yes” campaigners say the Mormons are just one of many religious groups that support the ban.

Officials in San Francisco — a national pioneer in recognizing gay marriages — have come out strongly against the Mormon Church’s campaign. “This is a blood feud on their part,” said Therese Stewart, chief deputy city attorney of San Francisco.

[Marriage]

A Mormon Church spokesman said it is acting only as a part of a broad coalition of groups opposed to gay marriage. “The campaign has had the support of over 60,000 individual contributors, the majority of which are not Mormons,” Mormon spokesman Michael Purdy said in a statement. Mormon leaders, on the church’s official Web site, ask their followers to support the California ballot measure to reinforce church teachings that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.”

Proposition 8 opponents are scrambling to turn back the tide. They have raised about $20 million by enlisting powerful allies such as the state teachers and nurses unions. The “No” campaign also is unleashing its own attack ads. “Unfair, Unnecessary, and Wrong,” says one new ad, which calls attention to a wave of newspaper, union and other endorsements against the measure.

Proposition 8 draws its heaviest support in Republican strongholds such as the Central Valley and Inland Empire of Southern California, according to recent polls. Its biggest opposition is coming from Democratic bastions such as San Francisco and Los Angeles along the coast.

But two Democratic constituencies — African-Americans and Latinos — are leaning toward the ban. Among likely black voters, 58% supported Proposition 8 compared with 38% who opposed it in the most recent Survey USA poll. Among Latinos, 47% supported the proposition while 41% opposed it; white voters were nearly evenly split. The reason, “Yes” officials say, is that church attendance is strong in many minority communities.

As a result, both sides are lobbying to corral votes in minority neighborhoods. Tuesday, for instance, African-American leaders in Oakland and Los Angeles held news conferences opposing the ban. The same day, other African-American leaders in those cities came out in support of Proposition 8.

Write to Jim Carlton at jim.carlton@wsj.com

BREAKING: CA GOP Vote Registration Contractor Arrested for Registration Fraud, Perjury

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on October 20, 2008

Brad Blog

This just in as Brad is headed over to the FOX News studios. Yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported on the Republican voter registration outfit who had allegedly been illegally changing thousands of registrations from Democratic to Republican.

Last night the head of that GOP backed group, Mark Anthony Jacoby of Young Political Majors (YPM), was arrested by the California State Election Fraud Taskforce and Oxnard, CA Police.

According to CA SoS Debra Bowen’s press release, Jacoby himself had committed voter registration fraud and perjury by lying on his own voter registration form. (That’s similar to what Ann Coulter did, though she not only committed felony voter registration fraud, she also committed actual voter fraud, as well, even though such fraud is exceedingly rare.)

UPDATE FROM BRAD: It was my pleasure to break this story today on Fox “News” of all places! Thanks to John Gideon for getting it posted as I was on the roll towards the studio. I’ll have the video up of my appearance on Fox, and the “Fox News Alert” I was able to do, later tonight (it’s now posted here). Please note, this isn’t the first time there have been serious problems with GOP-gathered voter registrations in CA, as outlined recently at Alternet. Looks like the GOP’s voter registration record for errors far outpaced ACORN! Whaddaya know? (Our special coverage of the GOP’s ACORN “Voter Fraud” Hoax is right here.) More updates now at bottom of article.

Bowen’s press release, just out, on Jacoby’s arrest is posted in full below, along with a number of additional updates after it…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 19, 2008
CONTACT: Kate Folmar (916) 208-6521 Secretary of State Debra Bowen Announces Arrest
of Man Charged with Voter Registration Fraud
   

SACRAMENTO – The owner of a signature-gathering firm that works across California was arrested in Ontario today on suspicion of committing voter registration fraud, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced.

Mark Anthony Jacoby, who owns the firm known as Young Political Majors (YPM), was arrested after allegedly registering himself to vote, once in 2006 and again in 2007, at an address where did not live. An investigation by the Secretary of State’s Election Fraud Investigation Unit revealed that Jacoby twice registered to vote at the address of a childhood home in Los Angeles although he no longer lived there.

The Secretary of State’s fraud unit and the Ontario Police Department arrested Jacoby near an Ontario hotel just before midnight Saturday. An arraignment date has not been scheduled yet.

“Voter registration fraud is a serious issue, which is why I vigorously investigate all allegations of elections fraud,” said Secretary Bowen, California’s chief elections officer. “Where there’s a case to be made, I will forward it to law enforcement for criminal prosecution.”

For his business, Jacoby traveled California and a number of other states collecting petition signatures and registering voters. Under state law, signature-gatherers must sign a declaration stating that they are either registered to vote in California or that they are eligible to do so. Jacoby allegedly registered to vote at his childhood address to meet this legal requirement.

Under California law, it is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison to register yourself when you are not entitled to vote and it is perjury to provide false information on a voter registration card.

On October 3, the Public Integrity Unit of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office charged Jacoby with four felonies: two counts of voter registration fraud and two counts of perjury. A warrant was issued for his arrest and bail was set at $50,000.

“This arrest wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the Ontario Police Department and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley’s office,” Secretary Bowen said. “I thank them both.”

The Secretary of State’s Election Fraud Investigation Unit helps maintain the integrity of the electoral process by investigating allegations of election and voter fraud in California. Potential Elections Code violations brought to the unit’s attention are thoroughly investigated and referred to law enforcement officials for prosecution when there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. The Secretary of State’s office does not disclose information about the status of ongoing criminal investigations, but the information from a case that results in a criminal complaint filed by a county or state prosecutor is a public record.

Anyone who has witnessed a violation of the California Elections Code is encouraged to contact the Secretary of State’s Election Fraud Investigation Unit at (800) 345-VOTE orhttp://www.sos.ca.gov/el…ions/elections_fraud.htm.

###

More updates from Brad…

UPDATE: Los Angeles Times covers the arrest here, and notes:

Jacoby’s arrest by state investigators and the Ontario Police Department comes after dozens of voters said they were duped into registering as Republicans by his firm, Young Political Majors, or YPM. The voters said YPM tricked them by saying they were signing a petition to toughen penalties against child molesters. The firm was paid $7 to $12 for every Californian it registered as a member of the GOP.

The YPM firm has been under investigation for similar unlawful activities in a number of states. Nobody who runs ACORN, despite the nonsense you’ve heard on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, etc. has ever been arrested, to our knowledge.

UPDATE 10:24pm I’ve been able to learn from a source that Jacoby is free on bail tonight, and apparently staying at a La Quinta (instead of his “home”, which is actually his mother’s home, where he is alleged to have registered illegally to vote).

Also, “Mrs. Panstreppon” at dKos notes:

Mark A Jacoby got into hot water with Florida authorities almost immediately after registering YPM LLC in August 2004, according to a 10/04 St Petersburg Times story about him.    

Read the story here

An 8/21/2008 Phoenix New Times covered YPM’s nefarious activities in Arizona where charges were made that YPM tossed thousands of voter registration forms in the trash.

Read the story here.

I seem to recall another GOP outfit being accused of filing phony voter registration forms in Nevada in 2006 but I don’t have the name at the moment. Anyone recall the case?

She’s likely referring to Sproul & Associates, the GOP outfit led by Nathan Sproul, that was charged with shredding Democratic voter registration forms in a number of states. They were paid more than $8 million dollars by the RNC, who tried to hide the expenditures in 2004. Details here.

And here are a number of BRAD BLOG reports on Sproul & Associates.

UPDATE 10/20/08 2:28am: As I’ve been poking around, trying to learn a bit more about this Jacoby fellow, I came across a posting from someone who claims to be a friend of a friend of his at this websiteI cannot verify the authenticity of either the comment, or the video, but it seems to be well informed, and matches up with several descriptions of the way Jacoby’s outfit has reportedly operated in a number of states. The poster, “foadi” says his/her friend is owed money by Jacoby, and he’d recently sent the friend an email “calling him an idiot for not working on this republican registration drive, saying that this was the cleanest campaign he’s ever done with the GOP and denying that he is under investigation, despite being driven out of san bernardino county a few weeks ago.”

“foadi” also calls Jacoby a few more names than I feel comfortable posting here for the moment. Again, I can’t verify the authenticity of these comments, or the video, as I’ve not been able to find an photos of Jacoby yet. So proceed with the following at your own risk, and with those caveats.

Here’s the most notable details from “foadi’s” comments:

his strategy for getting republican registrations is genius, although i can see how it might be illegal. here’s what his guys do:    

* they make a fake petition, usually something involving tougher laws on sex offenders.
* they use these petitions to stop people, setting up in front of big box stores, on college campuses, etc
* once they have a person signing their petition, they start asking them questions on the voter registration form (what’s your date of birth, which state/country were you born in, what’s your drivers license/state ID number, etc).
* by the time they get done with these basic questions the person is usually done signing the petition. they then hand the voter registration form to the person, telling them to fill out their name and address and signature at the bottom.
* last step, they either ask them to mark ‘republican’ because it ensures future funding for their petition, or they don’t tell the person anything and mark in republican themselves once the signer leaves.

using this strategy you can easily get over 100 republican registrations in a day. pay ranges from $5 – 10 per registration, so the people doing it definitely have the incentive to get as many registrations as possible.

And here’s the video which “foadi” claims to be of Jacoby, threatening someone who says he owes him $5000…

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Update from MCM:
But YPM apparently also engaged in outright forgery of voter signatures, as confirmed by an August 20, 2008 letter from Registrar Dean Logan.

The cause of this is not CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office (as alleged by some Republicans) but outraged voters, dozens of them in one county alone, who discovered their parties were switched, starting in February 2008. According to the complaint to election officials of Tiffany Hoffstetter voters like Hoffstetter are also upset with local election officials like Registrar Dean Logan for his lack of any timely action after the problem first surfaced during the February 2008 primary. Tiffany Hoffstetter has been actually disfranchised in 2 elections now, before getting action from local officials.

(LA Registrar Dean Logan is well known in Washington State, where I lived in 2004, for finding hundreds of ballots in the gubernatorial recount, some of them after the first machine recount, ultimately counted by court order and handing the governorship to Christine Gregoire during the hand recount.)

In an August 20, 2008 letter to student voter Tiffany Hoffstetter, LA County Registrar Dean Logan finally responded to Hofstetter’s repeated complaints:

“We share your concerns that someone falsified your information and signature on a voter registration formand changed your party affiliation. This registration was canceledŠ”

Registrar Dean Logan went on to say that YPM was not exactly, uh, forthcoming in response to telephone inquiries. It appears that YPM is ducking the investigation:

“our office has made numerous telephone calls to the political organization, Young Political Major (YPM) shown on our records as the organization that issued this form, but staff has been unsuccessful in receiving a response to requests to contact our office.”

Logan continued (and this shows that this is not a SOS Bowen-initiated deal per se):


“there have been a few instances in which political organizations appear to intentionally alter registration forms for payment, in our experience we have found this to be an exception.” {Š} “We will continue efforts {Š} to support referral of this case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney, Public Integrity Division.”

Based on the “dozens of other reports” referred to above, a warrant was subsequently issued by the Los Angeles DA for Mark Jacoby’s arrest, on the publicized charges, but nothing on this forgery, which is still under investigation, though it is confirmed as a Republican YPM forgery, according to Logan’s office’s letter.

The forged registration document and the person who is listed as the YPM who forged this document is yet another name besides Mark Jacoby. (or an alias of someone)

Under California law, according to a press release by SOS Bowen’s office, it is perjury to provide false information on a voter registration card. I’m sure forgery is illegal as well, somewhere in the California Codes.

There is a legitimate YPM organization in the LA area, called Young Progressive Majority, that does, inter alia,voter registration. See http://goypm.org/get-involved / No one should confuse that YPM organization with the Republican YPM whose members are under investigation or criminal charges in several states.

While the ACORN controversy primarily alleges only potential vote “dilution” if any “illegal votes” happened to be cast assuming any “Mickey Mouse” registrations were ever accepted, this case features actual vote disfranchisement/vote denial, where, for example, Tiffany Hoffstetter was unable to vote in 2 Democratic primaries and was uninterested in the Republican absentee ballot she was mailed, and unable to obtain a timely replacement or change in her party registration status.

That’s worth repeating:

TIFFANY HOFFSTETTER’S RIGHT TO VOTE WAS STOLEN, TWICE, BY THE REPUBLICAN YPM.

THIS IS NOT “VOTER FRAUD” WHERE NO VOTES WERE CAST, THIS IS TWO COUNTS OF OUTRIGHT THEFT ANDDISFRANCHISEMENT VIA FORGERY

Give a shout-out to DU Robinlynne’s persistent reporting and poll monitoring which helped lead to the first arrest, and it probably won’t be the last arrest in this developing multi-state GOP vote theft frauds.


Voters Say They Were Tricked Into Registering As Republicans

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on October 18, 2008
LA Times
SACRAMENTO — Dozens of newly minted Republican voters say they wer

Would you like to stop kid-touchers?

Would you like to stop kid-touchers?

e duped into joining the party by a GOP contractor with a trail of fraud complaints stretching across the country.

Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed.

“I am not a Republican,” insisted Karen Ashcraft, 47, a pet-clinic manager and former Democrat from Ventura who said she was duped by a signature gatherer into joining the GOP. “I certainly . . . won’t sign anything in front of a grocery store ever again.”

It is a bait-and-switch scheme familiar to election experts. The firm hired by the California Republican Party — a small company called Young Political Majors, or YPM, which operates in several states — has been accused of using the tactic across the country.

Election officials and lawmakers have launched investigations into the activities of YPM workers in Florida and Massachusetts. In Arizona, the firm was recently a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit. Prosecutors in Los Angeles and Ventura counties say they are investigating complaints about the company.

The firm, which a Republican Party spokesman said is paid $7 to $12 for each registration it secures, has denied any wrongdoing and says it has never been charged with a crime.

The 70,000 voters YPM has registered for the Republican Party this year will help combat the public perception that it is struggling amid Democratic gains nationally, give a boost to fundraising efforts and bolster member support for party leaders, political strategists from both parties say.

Those who were formerly Democrats may stop receiving phone calls and literature from that party, perhaps affecting its get-out-the-vote efforts. They also will be given only a Republican ballot in the next primary election if they do not switch their registration back before then.

Some also report having their registration status changed to absentee without their permission; if they show up at the polls without a ballot they may be unable to vote.

The Times randomly interviewed 46 of the hundreds of voters whose election records show they were recently re-registered as Republicans by YPM, and 37 of them — more than 80% — said that they were misled into making the change or that it was done without their knowledge.

Lydia Laws, a Palm Springs retiree, said she was angry to find recently that her registration had been switched from Democrat to Republican.

Laws said the YPM staffer who instructed her to identify herself on a petition as a Republican assured her that it was a formality, and that her registration would not be changed. Later, a card showed up in the mail saying she had joined the GOP.

“I said, ‘No, no, no. That’s not right,’ ” Laws said.

It all sounds familiar to Beverly Hill, a Democrat and the former election supervisor in Florida’s Alachua County. About 200 voters — mostly college students — were unwittingly registered as Republicans there in 2004 by YPM staffers using the same tactic, Hill said.

“It is just incredible that this can keep happening election after election,” she said.

YPM and Republican Party officials said they were surprised by the complaints. The officials said the signature gatherers wear shirts bearing the Republican symbol, an elephant — a contention disputed by some of the voters interviewed.

Every person registered signs an affidavit confirming they voluntarily joined the GOP, party leaders said.

“It does the state party no good to register people in a party they don’t want to be in,” said Hector Barajas, communications director for the California Republican Party.

The document that voters thought was an initiative petition has no legal implications at all. YPM founder Mark Jacoby said the petition was clearly labeled as a “plebiscite,” which does nothing more than show public support.

He also said that plainclothes investigators for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, a Democrat, have conducted multiple spot checks and told his firm it is doing nothing improper.

“Every time, they gave us a thumbs-up,” Jacoby said. “People are not being tricked.”

But Nicole Winger, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said the agency “does not give an OK or seal of approval to voter registration groups.”

Two years ago, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas charged 12 workers for a petitioning firm hired by the local Republican Party with fraudulently registering voters as Republican.

Democratic registration drives have also caught the attention of law enforcement officials.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, a national nonprofit that recruits mostly Democratic voters, is being investigated by the FBI for filing fake registrations in multiple states during the current presidential campaign.

In April, eight ACORN officials in St. Louis pleaded guilty to federal election fraud for submitting false registration cards in 2006.

In California, signature-gatherers are prohibited by law from misleading voters about what they are signing.

“You can’t lie to someone to procure their signature,” said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in election law.

Civil rights activists recently filed a lawsuit in Arizona accusing YPM of deceiving residents to get signatures for a ballot measure that would have prohibited affirmative action by that state. The lawsuit was dropped after supporters of the measure pulled it from the ballot.

In Massachusetts, former YPM worker Angela McElroy testified at a legislative hearing in 2004that she had tricked voters into signing a ballot measure to ban gay marriage. She said she told voters they were signing in favor of a measure to allow alcoholic drinks to be sold in supermarkets.

YPM’s Jacoby said McElroy was on loan to another signature-gathering company at the time the alleged deception took place.

Jose Aguilera, a 48-year-old math teacher from Ventura whose registration was recently changed from Democrat to Republican, said he signed the child-molester petition outside an Albertsons supermarket.

He said he was asked to sign a second document but not told that it would change his registration.

“Somehow the guy pulled out something else and I signed it,” he said.

Ashcraft, the pet-clinic manager, said she knew that she could still vote in November for whichever presidential candidate she supports — in her case, Democrat Barack Obama.

“I just don’t like being lied to,” she said.

Janett Lemaire, 54, said she told a signature-gatherer in the small Riverside County town of Desert Edge, “I’ve been a Democrat all my life and I want to stay that way.”

But the man “said this has nothing to do with changing how you are registered,” Lemaire said. “Then I get a notice in the mail saying I am a Republican. . . . I was very angry.”

evan.halper@latimes.com

michael.rothfeld@latimes.com