Mitt Romney’s campaign has asked Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli to launch an investigation into a nonprofit group’s mailing of voter registration materials to ineligible voters in the state — including cats, dogs, infants and, yes, the dead.
Using mailing lists from sources such as magazine subscriptions, the Washington, D.C.-based Voter Participation Center has mailed material to potentially thousands who cannot legally vote, ranging from pets to the deceased to non-U.S. citizens.
Kathryn Biber, general counsel for the Romney campaign, wrote to Mr. Cuccinelli and Charles Judd, chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections, noting that voter registration forms had been sent out “pre-populated” with names belonging to recipients’ dead relatives, children, noncitizen relatives, convicted felons, and cats and dogs.
“By sending pre-populated voter registration applications to persons (and animals) not eligible to vote, the Voter Participation Center is likely in violation of one or more of these laws,” Ms. Biber wrote.
She also cited comments from the secretary of the elections board, Donald L. Palmer, that “hundreds if not thousands, of applications were delivered to those ineligible to vote” from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which first reported the news.
Elections board spokesman Justin Riemer said the board has received more than 750 complaints about the forms VPC has mailed since mid-June.
Virginia law requires the voter — not a third party — to fill out his or her own voter application. Ms. Biber requested that the elections board require rejection of pre-populated voter-registration applications that come from the VPC. She also wanted the board to collect the names of all the people registered in the past two months and review their eligibility to register and vote.
“This is the only way for voters and other interested parties to regain confidence in the voter registration electoral process that has been abused by the Voter Participation Center,” she wrote.
The VPC describes itself as “a nonpartisan, nonprofit that focuses on registering and turning out the rising American electorate — unmarried women, people of color and young voters.”
On Wednesday, the group called on Mr. Cuccinelli to refuse to investigate its efforts and deny the campaign’s request for the elections board to direct registrars to refuse to accept forms VPC sent out, which it called “official, state approved voter registration applications submitted by eligible voters in the Commonwealth.”
Peter J. Kadzik, a lawyer for Dickstein Shapiro working on behalf of VPC, wrote to Mr. Cuccinelli on Wednesday that “these actions by the Romney campaign may rise to the level of interference with legitimate voter registration efforts contrary to applicable state and federal laws.”
“We believe the attempt by the Romney campaign may rise to legally interfering for Virginians to register and vote,” said Page Gardner, VPC president. She called the requests “absolutely wrong and absolutely outrageous.”
“This cannot be an excuse on the part of some people to shut down a legitimate effort to make sure more and more people are registered,” Ms. Gardner said.
As of July 18, 15,026 new voters in Virginia have registered as a result of the mail campaign, according to VPC spokesman Steve Hirsh.