RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's Republican attorney general is expanding a criminal probe of alleged efforts to destroy voter registration applications statewide.
Ken Cuccinelli's office entered the politically charged investigation Wednesday after the Republican-dominated State Board of Elections voted unanimously earlier in the day to authorize the inquiry.
A Pennsylvania man working for a company Republicans hired to conduct voter registration drives faces criminal charges in Rockingham County on allegations that he threw eight completed voter registration forms into the trash.
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Office of the Attorney General Press Release
Statement from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli:
"The State Board of Elections held a special meeting today and requested that my office look into the allegations of voter registration dumping in Rockingham County. This office will perform a thorough investigation of these very serious allegations. Violations of election laws will not be tolerated in the commonwealth. Citizens must feel confident that one of our most precious rights-the right to vote-is protected and that the electoral process is a secure and democratic one. We will do everything we can to ensure that.
"In performing our duties in this matter, we look forward to working with local authorities and the state police to root out any and all violations of law that may have occurred."
Under current Virginia law, the attorney general's office could not open an investigation until today's unanimous request from the State Board of Elections, or a request from a local commonwealth's attorney or a local electoral board was made.
The attorney general is the only official in the commonwealth who has statewide prosecutorial authority. For this reason, Attorney General Cuccinelli supports legislation that would give the office concurrent authority with local commonwealth's attorneys to investigate and prosecute election law violations without awaiting a formal request from any other entity. This would allow the Office of the Attorney General to work across all jurisdictions with law enforcement and local prosecutors to investigate and punish violators.