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GOP election fraud reported in Florida

In order to justify sweeping voting restrictions, Republican policymakers have had to argue that fraud is rampant throughout the American system of elections, necessitating a series of new barriers between the public and their democracy.

By every possible measure, the problems have been wildly and laughably exaggerated, but when evidence of fraud does appear, more often than not, it seems to involve Republican wrongdoing (thanks to my colleague Will Femia for the tip).

Two employees of a company once aligned with the Republican Party of Florida admitted to law-enforcement authorities that they forged voter registration forms.

It's the first result in a far-reaching voter fraud investigation that was launched last fall -- and initiated at the urging of the party after election supervisors started flagging questionable applications.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported Tuesday that the two ex-employees were charged with a third degree felony. But prosecutors back in January decided to place both of them on probation because neither has a criminal history.

Remember, this isn't an isolated criminal matter. On the contrary, it's part of a much larger controversy.

In this case, the two Republicans accused of election fraud worked for Strategic Allied Consulting. Why does Strategic Allied Consulting sound familiar? It's the company owned by Nathan Sproul -- the Republican consultant with a lengthy record of scandals and accusations of fraud, who nevertheless won a lucrative contract to oversee the RNC's 2012 voter-registration efforts in swing states.

The L.A. Timesreported last fall that Sproul "created Strategic Allied Consulting at the request of the Republican National Committee because of the bad publicity stemming from the past allegations." Regardless, the RNC got stuck with the company and was forced to scrap all of its registration drives in swing states in September when local officials in multiplestates found that Strategic Allied employees were allegedly committing registration fraud.

What's more, note that yesterday's news does not end the story -- there are several other cases and other Strategic Allied employees being investigated by Florida law enforcement.

Why the RNC contracted with Sproul's firm despite years of allegations of suspected fraud still remains unclear.