The Virginia State Board of Elections has requested that Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II investigate potential violations of state election laws after a Pennsylvania man was charged with 13 counts of voter-registration fraud in Harrisonburg last week.
The three-member board voted unanimously in a special meeting Wednesday afternoon to request that Mr. Cuccinelli's office look into the allegations and, if necessary, provide assistance if the inquiry expanded to the state level.
"I think it was in the public interest that the attorney general be able to participate if something that comes out of the local investigation that involves the commonwealth as a whole," said an electoral board official, speaking on background because of the ongoing investigation. "It can't hurt to have the attorney general as a part of the investigation."
The official added that the move should not be viewed as a "hostile takeover" of local authorities and that it simply put Mr. Cuccinelli's office in a position to work with local law enforcement and assist if necessary.
"This office will perform a thorough investigation of these very serious allegations," Mr. Cuccinelli, a Republican, said in a statement. "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."
Three members of Congress from Virginia on Tuesday wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asking him to investigate the activities of Strategic Allied Consulting and its subsidiary, Pinpoint. The company works with voter registration and is currently under investigation in Florida for 200 counts of potential voter-registration fraud.
The company said in a statement on its website that it has never tolerated "even minimal violations of election law when registering voters." Contractors who do not follow the law are immediately fired, the company states, and employees are fully cooperating with elections officials in Florida.
A spokesman for the Justice Department said the department received the letter and is reviewing it.
The letter was released after the State Board of Elections on Tuesday indicated that local jurisdictions investigating the case of Colin Small of Phoenixville, Pa., had not requested assistance from the state. Mr. Small was charged Friday with 13 counts of disclosure of voter-registration information, destruction of voter applications and obstruction of justice. A store manager told police he saw Mr. Small dump eight completed registration forms in a trash bin outside his store Oct. 15 hours before the voter-registration deadline of 5 p.m.
Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, quickly issued a statement condemning the incident and said Mr. Small was immediately fired.
"We were alarmed by allegations recently made regarding an individual in Harrisonburg," Mr. Mullins said. "The Republican Party of Virginia will not tolerate any action by any person that could threaten the integrity of our electoral process."
Under state law, Mr. Cuccinelli's office could not open an investigation without a request from the elections board, a local commonwealth's attorney or a local electoral board official.
Mr. Cuccinelli has indicated that he would support legislation to give his office concurrent authority with local commonwealth's attorneys so he could investigate and prosecute election-law violations without waiting for a formal request.
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David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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