Fla. elections officials referring Rosen voting allegations to prosecutors

Elections officials in Florida say they are asking prosecutors there 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 Tuesday.

State prosecutors in Maryland, meanwhile, declined to say whether they were investigating the allegations here.

Rosen, who won a close Democratic primary in April to challenge Republican Rep. Andy Harris in the 1st Congressional District, withdrew from the race Monday after she was confronted with the allegations by the Maryland Democratic Party.

State Democratic Chairwoman Yvette Lewis said an examination of voting records in Maryland and Florida showed that Rosen participated in the 2006 general election and the 2008 primaries in both states.

Maryland and Florida both held gubernatorial and congressional contests in 2006 and presidential primaries in 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton competed for the Democratic nomination.

Rosen, 57, a Cockeysville businesswoman and Maryland voter, told The Baltimore Sun on Monday that she had registered to vote in Florida, where she owns property, in order to support a friend running for the St. Petersburg City Council.

Asked if she had voted in both Maryland and Florida in the same elections, she said she did not remember how she voted. Asked if she had voted twice in the 2008 presidential primaries, she declined to comment "due to possible litigation."

Lewis detailed the allegations in a letter Monday urging Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and State Prosecutor Emmitt C. Davitt to investigate.

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

Deputy State Prosecutor Thomas M. "Mike" McDonough declined to comment Tuesday.

"As always, our policy is we don't confirm or deny any investigation," he said.

Del. Samuel I. "Sandy" Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat, asked the State Board of Elections 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 that should flag voters registered in more than one state, Maryland voter registration director Mary Cramer Wagner said.

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

Seven states have signed on; more are expected to join. Wagner said the Maryland State Board of Elections should receive its first report as early as this week.

A spokesman for Maryland Democrats said party leaders were told of Rosen's dual registration on Friday by someone within the party. After verifying the details over the weekend, spokesman Matthew Verghese said, the leaders confronted Rosen on Monday.

She withdrew from the general election in an email to party leaders.

"I have been proud to serve as the Democratic Congressional Candidate of Maryland's 1st Congressional District for the last five months, so it is with great regret, and much sorrow that I must resign," she wrote. "Personal issues have made this the hardest decision that I have had to make."

It was unclear whether Rosen could remove her name from the ballot with the election less than two months away. Under state law, a candidate has until 70 days before an election to remove his or her name from the ballot. The deadline for the Nov. 6 election passed on Aug. 28.

Democratic leaders, who demanded Rosen step aside, said they would gather the central committees in the 1st Congressional District this month to identify a write-in candidate for the district.

Rosen edged Chestertown physician John LaFerla in the Democratic primary in April by just 57 of the more than 25,000 votes cast.

In the general election, she was seen as the underdog to Harris, a 55-year-old physician from Baltimore County who is serving his first term in Congress representing the district that includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Harford, Carroll and Cecil counties. The district that has grown more solidly Republican since Harris ousted Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in 2010.

Still, she mounted a highly visible effort to promote her candidacy in July at the annual J. Millard Tawes crab feast in Crisfield. At the time, she told a reporter she believed Harris was vulnerable to a challenge because of unpopularity among voters.

She traveled to Charlotte, N.C., last week for the Democratic National Convention. At a Maryland Democratic party luncheon at that city's Mint Museum, she stood up to be recognized and receive applause.