- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2008

RICHMOND (AP) | The chairman of Virginia’s Republican Party on Monday sought a statewide probe of what he said was voter registration fraud across a battleground state in this year’s presidential race.

The chairman, Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, Prince William Republican, decried a “widespread problem across the commonwealth” after the arrests of three people last week in Hampton on election fraud charges. He urged Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, and Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican, to begin a statewide investigation.

The three were arrested on felony charges, and Mr. Frederick said the arrests triggered investigations in several other localities, including Richmond, Newport News and Norfolk.

But when pressed on his assertion that registration fraud had been reported by local election registrars statewide, Mr. Frederick would not identify other affected jurisdictions, citing the advice of lawyers.

Nancy Rodrigues, executive secretary of the State Board of Elections, said the reported fraud was based in Hampton, and listed eight other localities where victims could be involved.

With both parties battling this year over Virginia - a state that has not sided with a Democrat in a presidential election since 1964 - voter registration drives are at unprecedented levels, Miss Rodrigues and local registrars said.

Mr. Frederick rejected the suggestion that he exaggerated the scope of the fraud to intimidate Democrats’ registration efforts.

“We don’t know who’s doing all of this, but I’m sure that it’s more than one group,” he said.

Much of the increased registration activity involves block-by-block efforts by the campaign of presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama to add tens of thousands of new young and minority voters to Virginia’s rolls.

The three people arrested worked for the nonprofit Community Voters Project and, to be paid, had to meet a daily quota of new registrations. Two were 18 and one was 22. The group is affiliated with the Boston-based Fund for the Public Interest, which promotes progressive and environmentalist efforts but has no direct ties to Mr. Obama or the Democratic Party. The group first flagged the irregularities and made authorities aware of them.

To cut corners, names from telephone directories of cities and counties in the region were written into applications along with made-up Social Security numbers and birth dates and submitted to election registrars.

Investigators also are looking into suspicious voter registration forms with ties to people from Falls Church, James City County, Isle of Wight County, Chesapeake and Chesterfield. Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said there is no need for a statewide probe because local registrars, police and prosecutors have already done the job well.

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