www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-wendy-rosen-florida-20120911,0,7630951.story

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Fla. officials sending Rosen voting allegations to prosecutors

Democrat LaFerla says he would challenge Harris, if asked

By Matthew Hay Brown, The Baltimore Sun

7:30 PM EDT, September 11, 2012

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Elections officials in Florida said Tuesday they were asking prosecutors to investigate allegations that former Maryland congressional candidate Wendy Rosen was registered and voted in both states.

"After receiving information locally concerning this issue, we are referring this matter to the State Attorney's Office of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida," Julie Marcus, the deputy supervisor of elections for Pinellas County, Fla., said in a statement.

The announcement came one day after Rosen, the Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st Congressional District, withdrew from the race amid allegations she voted in elections in both Maryland and Florida in 2006 and 2008.

Also Tuesday, John LaFerla, who lost to Rosen in a close Democratic primary in the spring, said he would be available to run in her place as a write-in candidate.

"If I'm asked to do it by the state party, I will step up to the plate and take that responsibility to kind of salvage what's left of this campaign," he said. "I think that somebody has to give it a try."

Rosen did not respond to messages Tuesday seeking comment.

The 57-year-old Cockeysville businesswoman told The Baltimore Sun on Monday that she had registered to vote in Florida, where she owned property, to support a friend who was running for the St. Petersburg City Council.

Asked if she had voted twice in the same elections, she said she didn't remember; asked if she voted twice in the 2008 presidential primary, she declined to comment.

The allegations were raised Monday by the Maryland Democratic Party, which urged Rosen to withdraw from the race and asked Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt to investigate.

A spokesman for Gansler said Tuesday it was the office of the state prosecutor that would examine such allegations.

Deputy State Prosecutor Thomas M. "Mike" McDonough said he would not confirm or deny an investigation.

The timing of Rosen's withdrawal is problematic for Democrats: Under state law, it is too late to remove her name from the ballot. The party now is looking for someone to support as a write-in candidate.

Party leaders were consulting with elected Democrats and central committee members throughout the district, which includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Harford, Carroll and Cecil counties, to identify a candidate, party spokesman Matthew Verghese said.

"The time frame really was yesterday, to be honest," he said. "It's really as quickly as we can. The party understands the challenges of waging a write-in campaign for any office, but we definitely want to make sure we're hitting the ground running."

LaFerla, a 63-year-old Chestertown physician, lost to Rosen by just 57 of the more than 25,000 votes cast in the April primary. He said Tuesday that he had been speaking with central committee members and state party leaders.

Even before Rosen withdrew, Harris, a 55-year-old physician from Baltimore County, was favored to win a second term in the district, which became more Republican when the state's political map was redrawn last year.

Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat, asked the State Board of Elections Tuesday what legal, administrative or database changes might be necessary to prevent an individual from voting in state or federal elections from more than one state.

Maryland this year became the first state to join a multistate database intended to flag voters registered in two places, Maryland voter registration director Mary Cramer Wagner said.

But the Electronic Registration Information Center would not have found Rosen, Wagner said, because Florida has not joined the database.

Verghese said a Democratic source told party leaders of Rosen's dual registration on Friday. After verifying the details over the weekend, the leaders confronted Rosen on Monday.

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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