A pushy Muslim activist demanded a county elections office worker accept a box of 550 applications to vote after the close of business on the last day to register in Palm Beach County, Florida.

According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, Theresa LePore attempted to close the office at 5 p.m. last Monday when a young man showed up 15 minutes after the deadline, insisting she accept a box of 550 applications on behalf of a group of Muslims determined to oust President Bush.

LePore said the applications were attached to slips of paper identifying them as having been collected by Voting Is Power, which goes by the acronym VIP and is an offshoot of the Washington-based Muslim American Society.

LePore had locked the door when the unidentified man showed up. She said she told him her office was closed, but that he could mail the forms as long as they were postmarked by midnight that night.

“He started hollering about disenfranchising people,” said LePore, who took the box after he thrust it at her.

She examined some of the applications and noticed that some were incomplete and others dated in July. LePore told the man he should have turned them in on time so the potential voters could have cast ballots in the Aug. 31 primary or corrected missing information.

“Then he started saying, ‘You’re all alike,’ or something to that effect, and ‘It’s better in New York,'” she said. “And I said, ‘Why don’t you go back to New York?’ ”

LePore, who said she also let a few individuals turn in single registration forms until 6 p.m., was surprised to learn that VIP’s parent group is the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, an organization that has a federal 501(c)3 designation for religious non-profits. The group claims it is non-partisan, but its political action committee has formally endorsed John Kerry for president.

Florida is one of five battleground states Muslims have targeted for get-out-the-vote efforts, foundation Executive Director Mahdi Bray said Thursday. VIP recruiters in Florida registered about 7,000 new Muslim voters he hopes will go to the polls on Election Day and vote for Kerry, he said.

“This administration’s policy of preemptive war has destabilized the region,” Bray said Thursday. “Many of us who know the region know that this can of worms this administration has opened, this mistaken policy, will haunt the Muslim world for years to come.”

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