PITTSBURGH (AP) — A county detective is trying to figure out how an apparent prankster was able to fill out a 2008 voter registration card signed "Barack H. Obama."
By the time Butler County elections officials processed the card, it went into the state's computerized database with the last name "Obana" — that is, with an 'n' in place of the 'm' — but a detective said that whoever filled out the card was clearly trying to register using President Barack Obama's full name.
"On the actual registration card, the attempted voter — we're assuming it's a college kid — the kid who wrote it put an 'm' in the name," Butler County detective Scott Roskovski told The Associated Press on Jan. 16.
The card was discovered in the first week of January when a jury commissioner was reviewing questionnaires set to be mailed to potential jurors. In Pennsylvania, potential jurors can be drawn from voter registration lists. The jury commissioner contacted the detective, who handles election-related issues for the county located about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.
"The name threw up a red flag," jury commissioner Jon Galante told the AP on Jan. 16. "I would have had the same reaction had it read Mitt Romney, Snoop Dogg, Mario Lemieux or Julius Caesar."
Roskovski said county elections records showed nobody tried to vote using the bogus registration card, though filling it out falsely could be a felony — perjury — or a misdemeanor of making a false unsworn statement.
The handwritten card also lists the president's birth date — 8/4/61 — though whoever wrote it put '81 as the birth year before scratching it out. Roskovski said it's possible the prankster was born in the 1980s and used the wrong digit before realizing the mistake.
The address listed on the card used to belong to a former dormitory at Slippery Rock University, a state-owned school in the county, which is one reason Roskovski assumes it was filled out as a prank. Another reason: The voter's listed phone number was 555-5555.
Because the card is from 2008, county elections officials have no recollection of receiving it or entering it into a statewide database of registered voters, which is where the last name is spelled with an 'n,' Roskovski said. He assumes the card was processed in good faith by an elections worker who was busy with a large number of newly registered voters.
County elections director Shari Brewer said officials approved the registration because they're required to even if a birth date or other identifying information is believed to be incorrect, though a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State said county officials are empowered to reject registration cards with "dubious" information. The card likely wasn't discovered before last week because whoever applied for it never tried to vote.
As to whomever that is, Rostovski said: "Unfortunately, they don't take voting as seriously as they should. It's a college prank, but I think it's more than a college prank."