Shenandoah County GOP


Election Legal Round-up

The polls haven’t even opened yet, and yet the litigation continues. The NAACP is still pushing to extend polling hours across the Commonwealth. From WVEC

The NAACP has asked a federal judge to step in to extend Virginia’s voting time by two hours.

The group also alleges there aren’t enough voting machines, especially in minority-heavy districts. And the group wants paper ballots available in case lines are too long.

Gov. Tim Kaine says it’s not necessary to have the extra time and he says he doesn’t have the authority to do it.

The NAACP had withdrawn its request for a hearing on Thursday after receiving new information from state officials about the placement of election day resources. At the time, NAACP officials said a new hearing before the election was unlikely.

But after assessing the updated information, the NAACP concluded preparations were still insufficient and on Friday requested a new hearing.

“We went back and looked at the numbers, and it’s still the same old bad news. We’re still seeing disparities between black and white precincts,” said Ben Jealous, national NAACP president.

State Elections officials have stated anyone in line at the 7:00 p.m. deadline Tuesday will be able to cast a vote.

Meanwhile, both parties are gearing up for a fight once the votes are counted. From the Washington Post:

Lawyers could be present at almost all of Virginia’s 2,349 precincts to monitor the process, protect voters’ rights and challenge voters suspected of fraud, officials said. They also will be involved in extraordinary attempts to identify party supporters who have already voted so that those who have not can be contacted and urged to do so.

Lawyers have long played a part in the electoral process. But given the heightened intensity of the race and the unprecedented turnout expected, voter protection has taken on added importance, even attracting lawyers to Virginia from out of state, officials said. That is especially true, they say, in the wake of the contested 2000 presidential election in Florida, when Bush vs. Gore moved from the voting booth to the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’ve never done anything like this before where it’s been this comprehensive,” said Gerry Scimeca, spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party. “With the heightened number of new registrants, Election Day poll watching is taking on an added urgency.”

A training manual that the Virginia Democratic Party distributed to hundreds of lawyer volunteers instructs them on the Obama campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort, called the “Houdini Project.” Lawyers will periodically enter into a database the names of those who have cast ballots so that campaign staff can contact those who have not voted, almost in real time.

It’s going to be a fight folks, and we have to fight in. Join us at our Strasburg Headquarters or at United Country Real Estate in Mt. Jackson tomorrow for phone banking from 10 until 6:45. 

Every. Vote. Counts.

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College students and voter fraud

I’ve written multiple times about the great potential for fraud in the voting process and several times about the unique challenges college students and campus organizers face in registering to vote. From the Third Congressional District we recieve word that thousands of out-of-state college students have registered to vote in both Virginia and their home state. From Third Congressional District Republican Committee Chair Mike Wade:

An ongoing analysis of data matching voter registration lists in
other states with the list of newly registered voters in Virginia has
confirmed that there are thousands of students who attend college in
Virginia who are registered here as well as in their home state. Even
more alarming, some of these students have applied for absentee
ballots in their home state after having just registered to vote here.

In just eight localities in Pennsylvania, over 350 individuals were
registered to vote both in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and 40 of these
individuals have applied for and/or received absentee ballots. The
analysis is continuing.

 “Every Virginian should be concerned about the potential for fraud
 on a scale we have not witnessed before in Virginia, said Mike Wade,
Third District GOP Chairman. “I am pleased that Secretary Rodrigues
and the State Board of Elections is taking this seriously and has
turned the names of those applying for ballots in other states over to
the State Police.”

Wade continued, “It is vital this year that every Virginian be
vigilant and aware and report suspected fraud to the proper
authorities.”

This situation is a direct result of the intervention by Governor
Kaine’s office in the policymaking process, supported by pressure
from the Obama campaign directed toward both the State Board of
Elections and local Registrars. In early September, election policy
was changed to shift responsibility from the local Registrar to the
student him/herself for determining whether or not they are a resident
of Virginia. Registrars were further instructed to not inform an
applicant for voter registration about such things as the requirement
under state law for an individual to contact the DMV and obtain a
Virginia Driver’s License within 60 days of becoming a resident of
Virginia.

“The unprecedented involvement of the Governor’s Chief of Staff,
in directing policy and personally editing communications to
Registrars for the sole purpose of benefitting one candidate in one
race, has cast doubts on the entire policymaking process,” Wade
added. “The result is the alarming situation we now find ourselves
 in.”

Senator Obenshain, who represents Harrisonburg and therefore James Madison University in the State Senate, has been hammering the Democrats on this for weeks. It’s only now that we find out the full extent of this issue.

I believe that it should be easy to vote, and it is all things considered. Absentee voting puts no additional burden on the voter other than remembering which date to have everything done by, which is really no different than remembering when the polls close. If students insist on voting in person, I have my own issues with that, but some of that stems from my views on home and permanence. If you’re ready to face the consequences of fully pulling the rope away and saying you no longer with your parents, fine.

It’s hard for me to believe, though, that thousands of college students have “spaced” on where they are registered and “accidentally” registered twice. I’m not saying that this is a deliberate ploy by the Obama campaign (although I do agree with the analysis that Kaine intentionally lowered the threshold to use Virginia’s substantial non-resident college population to put the state in play). What I am saying is that this policy has the potential to be misused by individuals, and that appears to be the case here.

Every vote counts.

But only once.



Fraud watch: Military absentees being tossed

Earlier this month I wrote that Fairfax County General Registrar was engaging in some questionable behavior by targeting jails over other locations for on-site absentee ballot registration. Now, some even more disturbing news is emerging from Fairfax, this time in the form of absenstee ballots from our men and women in uniform being thrown out en masse. From Human Events:

Fairfax County Registrar Rokey Suleman is disqualifying an overwhelming majority of the military federal write-in absentee ballots received in his county on the basis that no address had been given for those witnessing the voter signatures on the ballots. According to Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity and four former members of the military who held a press conference on Thursday, over 98 percent of these military absentee ballots in Fairfax County are being rejected.

“The federal write-in absentee ballot is a federally mandated ballot that allows military service members and their dependents to cast an absentee ballot when they haven’t received a [state] ballot before the election,” Herrity said. “For them it’s a safety net. It allows them to vote if the mail truck hasn’t reached his or her remote base in Iran or Afghanistan in time to cast a regular absentee ballot.”

When asked how many ballots had been rejected, Herrity responded, “Out of the 260 military federal write-in ballots received to date, only five included an address for the witness. The other 255 have been set aside for rejection.”

Fortunately, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, a veteran himself, is doing his best to make sure that every vote cast by our country’s finest is counted. From the Virginian Pilot (based out of Hampton Roads, where even more people will be on the lookout for this sort of behavior due to the region’s large military population):

State elections officials and Attorney General Bob McDonnell are taking a new look at a thicket of state and federal voting laws that threaten to invalidate some of the thousands of absentee votes being cast by military members and other Virginians overseas.

“Every eligible vote will be counted,” David Clementson, a McDonnell spokesman, said Friday.

The review by the State Board of Elections and McDonnell’s office comes amid calls from some of the attorney general’s fellow Republicans for the state to count all votes submitted using a federal write-in absentee ballot.

In a conference call arranged by the McCain for President campaign, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore said Friday that federal law should “trump” a state statute that the elections board has said would require it to set aside some votes submitted on the federal ballot.

At issue is a state requirement that the completed federal ballot provide both the name and address of a witness to the absentee vote – unless the voter has also requested a separate, state-furnished ballot. The federal form, used for voting in all 50 states, does not provide a space for the address and does not specify which states, such as Virginia, require it.

The federal ballot is intended as a backup, for use when voters have applied for, but not yet received, a Virginia ballot. The state form requires the witness’s signature but not an address.

More from the Waynesboro News Virginian:

State Board of Elections Spokeswoman Susan Pollard said the 100 ballots in the Northern Virginia area are under investigation by Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

Under state law, Pollard said, the ballots must be witnessed and also include a signature of the witness and the witness’ printed name and address.

She said the 100 ballots in question lack all the witness requirements of the state law.

She said McDonnell’s office is working to review both federal and state law and said the status of the 100 ballots is uncertain.

“We are also looking to see if this is occurring elsewhere in Virginia,” Pollard said of the witness information problem.



All Sides Gearing up for Election Watch

More on the battles over the process, which have started before the first vote has even been fed through the machines. From the Washington Post:

On Thursday, the McCain campaign accused Kaine (D), a co-chairman of Obama’s campaign, of restoring voting rights for almost 1,500 felons in an effort to help Obama win Virginia’s 13 electoral votes.

“This is a question of judgment,” said Trey Walker, McCain’s mid-Atlantic regional campaign manager. “Senator Obama and Governor Kaine have assembled a felonious coalition of attempted murderers, kidnappers, rapists, armed robbers and wife beaters in order to win Virginia. This dangerous lack of judgment has no place in the White House.”

…..

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request from a GOP legislator, Kaine released the names this week of 1,484 felons whose voting rights were restored this year.

Under Virginia’s constitution, people convicted of a felony automatically lose their right to vote, serve on a jury or own a gun. But a governor can restore those rights if he or she believes the felons have redeemed themselves.

Almost all of the people who had their rights restored by Kaine this year are nonviolent offenders who have not committed a new offense within the past three years. Kaine’s predecessor, Mark R. Warner (D), restored the rights of about 3,500 nonviolent offenders.

Earlier in the month, GOP operatives pored through the names of the 729 Virginia felons whose rights were restored by Kaine in 2006. Of those, about three dozen have since committed new crimes, almost all of them misdemeanors, according to the GOP.

“The governor, in a wholesale manner, put these people back onto the voting rolls,” said Del. William R. Janis (R-Goochland), who filed the FOIA request. “It is clear the Obama campaign, or their agents and representatives, is engaged in a systematic effort to put as many people as possible on the voting rolls who they think will vote for Barack Obama.”

Meanwhile, recognizing that both parties will be looking for every uncrossed t and undotted i, the United States District Attorney for the Western District of Virginia has unveiled its fraud response. From WSLS:

Acting United States Attorney Julia C. Dudley announced today that Sharon K. Burnham, an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Virginia, will lead the efforts of her Office in the connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 4, 2008 general elections. AUSA Burnham has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer for the Western District of Virginia, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters.

“Election fraud and voting rights abuses dilute the worth of votes honestly cast. They also corrupt the essence of our representative form of government,” Acting United States Attorney Julia C. Dudley said today. “As crimes against both the individual and the government, they will be dealt with promptly and aggressively. Anyone who has information suggesting electoral corruption or voting rights abuses should make that information available immediately to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”

On October 8, 2002, Attorney General Ashcroft established a Department-wide Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative. The goals of this Initiative are to increase the Department’s ability to deter voter intimidation, suppression, discrimination and election fraud and to prosecute these offenses whenever and wherever they occur – to make voting easier and cheating harder. Both goals are equally important. It is imperative that in pursuing voter integrity, ballot access is not in any way diminished or harmed.