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USA Today
July 25, 2000


By Tom Squitieri

WASHINGTON - John Hagelin alleged Monday that Reform Party presidential rival Pat Buchanan is engaging in "massive voter fraud" and trying to steal the party nomination.

Hagelin, a physicist who heads the Natural Law Party and is also seeking the Reform nomination, accused Buchanan's campaign of improperly acquiring Reform Party primary ballots for at least 262,314 supporters and contributors in 10 states.

A four-person audit panel appointed by the Reform Party is investigating the allegations and will issue a report later this week.

If fraud is found, the panel could disqualify Buchanan from being on the primary ballot. That would deny him the party's presidential nomination and the accompanying $12.6 million in federal campaign funds.

Hagelin charged that the names are contributors to Buchanan's runs for the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996. He did not offer evidence to support his claims, even though he said there were affidavits from voters who improperly received ballots.

"This is the latest in a series of increasingly desperate acts by the Buchanan campaign," Hagelin told reporters. He said Buchanan is already planning "a coup on the convention floor" if he does not win the party's national mail-in primary, which began July 5 and ends Aug. 9....

About 1.1 million primary ballots were distributed. The winner is to be announced during the party's convention Aug. 10-13 in Long Beach, Calif. Party rules say the primary winner can be overturned with a vote of two-thirds of the convention delegates.

Under party rules, all registered Reform Party members as well as registered voters who signed petitions to place the Reform Party on state ballots automatically received primary ballots. Ballots were also sent to any other registered voter who requested one before June 30.

Hagelin remains relatively unknown despite becoming the vehicle that supporters of Reform Party founder Ross Perot have chosen to try to block Buchanan. However, he has gained strength in recent weeks through various grass-roots Reform organizers who have rounded up voters for him....

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