Pubdate: Tue, 19 Oct 2004
Source: Times Herald, The (Norristown, PA)
Copyright: 2004 The Times Herald
Author: Margaret Gibbons, Times Herald Staff
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


COURTHOUSE - Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) students
recently received a real-life lesson: Do not sign something unless you
thoroughly read it.

Students, who last month signed a petition that was being circulated
on the Blue Bell campus to legalize marijuana for primarily medicinal
purposes, now are finding out that they are registered

"This is just very disheartening," said Plymouth resident Jennifer
Fugo, a 24-year-old continuing education student who describes herself
as a "victim of voter registration manipulation."

"Everyone is encouraging young people to register and vote and then
they experience something like this," Fugo said Monday. "This is just

Fugo, who had been living in New York, this summer returned to the
area and, in August, had her voter registration transferred to
Plymouth. Her new registration card at that time correctly listed her
party affiliation as a Democrat.

Imagine her surprise last week, said Fugo, when she received a new
registration card from the county that listed her as a registered Republican.

"It is disgraceful and detestable, not to mention illegal, to alter
anyone's voter registration without that person's consent," Fugo said.
"The thought that there is a special interest group in my area that is
knowingly defrauding citizens voting records is outrageous, no matter
what party or interest group is perpetrating this act."

When she contacted the county's voter registration office, she was
advised that she was not the only MCCC student who was a victim of
registration fraud.

County voter services Director Joseph R. Passarella said that his
office has received "less than a handful" of complaints from MCCC
students complaining that they have been registered as Republicans and
all were tied into the same petition drive.

His office has not been able to pin down the group that submitted
these registrations.

Passarella speculated that there are various organizations this year
who are paying people to register new voters in specific parties and
that this was the work of someone trying to cash in on the

The good news is that it does not make any difference in what party a
person is registered in the upcoming election because a registered
voter can vote for any candidate on the ticket regardless of party,
Passarella said.

However, if a person wants to vote in next spring's Democratic or
Republican primary elections and is not registered in the party of his
or her choice, he or she can change the registration after the Nov. 2
general election, he said.

"I think these kids learned the hard way to make sure they read things
before signing them and not sign anything that is questionable,"
Passarella said. Fugo said she had questioned the signing of the
registration form, telling the petition circulator that she already
was registered to vote. He told her they were just using the form for
information purposes and that she could not sign the petition unless
she also signed the form.

Susan Adams, MCCC's director of marketing and communications, Monday
said she was first alerted to the situation last Friday after the
school had received calls from a student and the parent of another

Adams said that all persons circulating petitions on the college's
campus must first sign in with the school.

No one signed in nor received an OK to circulate the marijuana
petition, Adams said.

MCCC in early September did host a voter registration drive where the
Republican, Democratic and Green Parties participated, Adams said.
"That was very successful," said Adams. "There is a lot of interest in
this election."

Montgomery County Republican Committee Executive Director Adam Gattuso
said the county GOP did not condone such registration fraud and did
not learn about it until late last week.

"That is despicable and not something we would do nor need to do,"
said Gattuso. 
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