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Four ACORN workers indicted in Kansas City

A pile of registrations cards deemed questionable by St. Louis election officials (KWMU file photo/Tom Weber)
A pile of registrations cards deemed questionable by St. Louis election officials (KWMU file photo/Tom Weber)


Kansas City, MO – Federal prosecutors in Kansas City have indicted four people who worked for the advocacy group ACORN; the four are accused of turning in false voter registrations to the Kansas City election board.

ACORN has been holding voter registration drives focused on low-income and minority residents in parts of Missouri this year.

And St. Louis election officials say the group has also turned in faulty registrations, and they also plan on turning those cards over to investigators.

ACORN says the four who are now accused were temporary workers who have since been fired.

The U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday's indictments name Kwaim A. Stenson, Dale D. Franklin, Brian Gardner and Stephanie L. Davis, who also is known as Latisha Reed. All four face two felony counts each of "knowingly and willingly" filing false information. The charge carries maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

ACORN officials issued a statement Wednesday night noting that the group had alerted Kansas City elections officials and the Jackson County prosecutor last month after detecting suspicious voter registration applications.

ACORN also says it worked with the FBI in the investigation.

Kansas City's Republican election director, Ray James, said the indictments could help maintain public trust in the election process.

"I hate for anyone to be prosecuted and suffer," James said. "But I've long been concerned about the rights of the general public to a fair election."

James and his Democratic counterpart, Sharon Turner Buie, have said as many as 15,000 recently submitted voter registrations could be "questionable," which they define as duplicates, unreadable applications or containing information that doesn't match other existing records.

Last week the board chairwoman, Melodie Powell, said the board had turned the investigation of the questionable cards over to local and federal authorities.

ACORN has said that some of its applications may have contained honest mistakes.

The Republican election director in St. Louis, Scott Leiendecker, has criticized ACORN's voter registration process in that city. Its board sent letters to 5,000 voters asking them to re-verify their registrations, an action some critics called illegal.