By Lauren Zeugner
SYRACUSE — A former Syracuse Town Councilwoman and an employee in the Kosciusko County Clerk’s Office have both received text messages informing them an unidentified source will be sending them an absentee ballot and they should fill it out and send it back as soon as possible.
Cassie Cowan contacted The Mail-Journal concerned about the text message. She contacted the Kosciusko County Clerk’s Office to request an absentee ballot and report the text when she was informed an employee in the clerk’s office received the same text from a different phone number.
Cowan’s text came from a 475 prefix, a Lucerne number. The text read, “Hi I’m Amy w/INGOP. We sent u an absentee ballot application. To vote by mail send it back ASAP! or visit “bit.ly/3jX2CMn” Txt STOP to opt out.”
Kosciusko County Clerk of the Court Ann Torpy stated Cowan and her employee are the first two she’s aware of who received the text. The clerk of the court is also the election supervisor for the county they serve.
Torpy stated she wasn’t sure the text messages amounted to at attempt at voter fraud. If she suspects they are, the matter will be turned over to the Secretary of State to investigate.
Noting they were not from a county official, she explained they could have originated from the State Republican or Democratic Committees, from the national Republican or Democratic committees or by a candidate. “With them not being identified who they are could be concerning,” she said.
The end of last week the Indiana Republican and Democratic parties received the voters lists. Those lists, depending on which one they purchased, could indicate whether someone has applied for an absentee ballot. It could also indicate whether the application for absentee ballot has been returned. Later the lists could indicate whether the voter has received a ballot and returned it.
Torpy explained both parties are encouraging voters to request absentee ballots. However, they are using different databases than the county clerks. “So they don’t know someone has already made a request,” she said.
In a later email, Torpy stated she did report the text messages to the state, “but since they came from the GOP they said it didn’t appear to be fraud. Because that is common during election years.”
Torpy advised voters if they requested an application for absentee voting, received the application and sent it back to the clerk’s office and then received one of these texts, it doesn’t mean the clerk’s office did not receive the application. They can call the clerk’s office at (574) 372-2332 to confirm the clerk’s office received their application.