Investigation Launched Over Trashed Voter Registration Forms

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Is it a case of election fraud, voter suppression, or something far less sinister?  That's what Rockingham County investigators are trying to find out, after someone trashed a folder of voter registration forms.

Just hours before the Monday deadline for voter registration, a Harrisonburg store manager made a discovery that will keep eight citizens from being silenced.  Their completed registration forms were discarded like trash.  Investigators don't yet know if it's criminal activity or just bad business.

A typical Monday afternoon at Tuesday Morning, a store in Harrisonburg, took a strange turn, when the manager Rob Johnson spotted someone putting a bag of trash in his recycling bin.  Johnson went to retrieve the misplaced refuse.

"That's when I realized, this bag is really light and looked inside," Johnson said.  "There was the manila folder with the eight voter registration applications, and I was like, we've got something here."

The Rockingham County registrar says those forms belonged to would-be voters from three different counties.  Their only common thread appears to be a recent registration drive in the Elkton area.

"We don't know what the motive was to throw these away," said Rockingham County Voter Registrar Doug Geib.  "But I don't think it was based on that… because there's no way the people collecting the applications would know what party, what candidate these people are going to vote for."

But will they be allowed to vote for anyone?  The registrar went to the state to ask, and came back with good news.

Geib said, "The guidance I received from them was, yes, that they did meet the deadline.  They were delivered to our office, and so they are going to be able to vote in the November election."

Johnson got a thank you call from the mother of one of those affected voters, who was only 18 years old.

"That would be a big disappointment... your first election ever, to go in to vote for the first time, and be told you can't do it," Johnson said.  "So whoever did this, it was pretty despicable."

The sheriff says the voter drive organizer and the person who apparently trashed the documents are two different people.  Investigators are talking to both, and hope to decide by Wednesday whether this is a criminal case.

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