Voter group wants documents unsealed in Indiana search

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) " A voter mobilization facing an investigation into possible voter registration fraud asked a court Thursday to unseal documents from an Indiana State Police search of its offices, saying it "has been publicly demonized by the highest state officials in Indiana."

Patriot Majority USA's attorneys asked a judge to either unseal a search warrant affidavit in the Oct. 4 search of its Indianapolis offices or hold an immediate hearing on its request.

State Police announced Sept. 15 that it had begun investigating in August whether some voter registration applications submitted by Patriot Majority contained elements of fraud, including possible forged signatures. Patriot Majority has said some applications it submitted to county clerk's offices were missing information, but none were fraudulent, and the group had flagged applications it knew were incomplete.

In its motion filed in Marion County Superior Court, Patriot Majority cites comments by Gov. Mike Pence, who's Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's running mate; Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson; Pence-appointed State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, among others.

"It would be highly unjust to not release the Affidavit when public officials have refused to provide the facts supporting their reckless conclusory proclamations," the motion states.

The issue has been highly politicized, with Trump and Pence raising the possibility of a "rigged" election without offering proof. Attorneys for Patriot Majority have asked the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights division to look into whether the State Police investigation is an attempt to suppress the votes of black residents.

Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd declined to comment Thursday and referred to a statement issued Wednesday by Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry in which Curry asked State Police to "release no further information" on its pending investigation. Curry, a Democrat, appeared to chastise both state officials and Patriot Majority for comments they had made.

"Accusations of fraud or other intentional acts prior to the conclusion of a thorough review by law enforcement and a prosecutor are premature and contrary to the foundational principle of presumed innocence until and unless proven guilty," Curry said.

"Likewise, reckless assertions by third parties of voter suppression and intimidation are without merit," he added.

State Police spokesman Capt. Dave Bursten said the agency cannot comment on pending litigation. Lawson's spokeswoman, Valerie Warycha, also declined comment.

Patriot Majority has said the police search effectively shut down their voter registration efforts a week before Indiana's voter registration deadline after the group had collected about 45,000 voter registration applications, mostly from black residents. The State Police investigation spans 56 counties.

Linda Pence, an Indianapolis attorney who represents Patriot Majority, said Thursday's motion "speaks for itself."

"We hope and expect that this matter will now be handled in a nonpartisan and professional manner moving forward," she said.

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Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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