Political Fallout Following Rockingham County Voter Fraud
The eight voter registration forms that ended up in a Harrisonburg dumpster are making headlines from coast to coast. The incident already has one man looking at possible prison time, but some political leaders say voters are the ones truly handcuffed.
All eight Shenandoah Valley voters whose forms were rescued from a recycling bin on Monday have been cleared to cast their ballots, and so far there have been no new missing document reports. But election officials say you should confirm with your city or county that you're on the rolls, especially if you signed up at a third party registration drive.
The Harrisonburg store manager's discovery of discarded voter registration forms has touched off a political fire storm and led to an arrest. Colin Patrick Small, 23, of Pennsylvania faces felony and misdemeanor charges ranging from voter fraud to obstruction of justice.
Small worked for Pinpoint, a firm paid by the Republican Party of Virginia to get potential voters signed up. The Rockingham County sheriff says the alleged crimes were isolated, and did not appear to target a specific party or profile. Valley registrars agree.
"There's no way to tell by party when people fill out these forms, what party they're affiliated with," said Rockingham County Registrar Doug Geib. "So I don't think there's any political motivation."
But that has not kept prominent Democrats from crying foul. State Senator Donald McEachin and Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Brian Moran have both called on the attorney general to launch an investigation, to ensure that this case is not part of what Moran calls a "larger Republican effort."
The GOP fired back, and fired Small, saying it would not tolerate any actions that threaten the electoral process.
Registrars warn that third party registration drives can be risky because of political motivation, or simply a lack of safeguards.
"The party drives, of course, do have their place, and they are doing a service of helping people get registered," Augusta County Registrar Brandi Lilly. "But you're also giving your personal information to a complete stranger."
Small has been released on bond. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on November 5, the day before Election Day.
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