- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2001

A local GOP member is filing suit against the Fairfax County elections board after he was forced to take down a sign reading "Republicans Only Please" outside a Republican primary polling place.
John Grigsby, a member of the Loudoun County Republican Committee, hopes the lawsuit can address the larger issue that had him incensed in the first place: the ability of Democrats to vote in Republican primaries.
"They ran essentially a general election in a Republican primary," Mr. Grigsby said.
Virginia law does not require voters to register by party, which means anyone can vote in a party's primary.
The suit, to be filed this week, may also target the state elections board, Herndon police and anyone else who may have been involved in the Aug. 21 fracas, said Jon Moseley, Mr. Grigsby's attorney.
"He was sending the message that this is a Republican primary and they silenced him," Mr. Moseley said. "Technically, that's clearly illegal."
Mr. Grigsby contends he posted his sign, along with a second stating "Republican Primary," in the same area where others set up their political signs outside the Herndon Community Center.
That set off a contentious chain of events between himself and James Lloyd, the chief elections official for that location.
Mr. Lloyd said a voter first alerted him to the signs about 8 a.m.
"It didn't sound like the kind of sign that should be out there, this being an open primary and all," Mr. Lloyd said. "People could be misled."
He was afraid voters would drive up, see the sign and turn away. Mr. Lloyd called the county elections board and then the police.
Officers told Mr. Grigsby to take down his sign. But, according to Mr. Lloyd, he was soon allowed to put it back up when state elections officials, talking with local elections officials by phone, raised freedom of speech issues.
At one point, supporters of House candidate and Herndon Mayor Thomas D. Rust blocked the sign by waiving their own, Mr. Grigsby said. Mr. Grigsby supported candidate Steven D. Whitener.
Mr. Rust could not be reached for comment.
His campaign manager, Ben Mitchell, denied that his workers purposefully blocked Mr. Grigsby's sign, and denied Mr. Grigsby's contention that the Rust campaign pursued Democrats.
"We made no efforts, we had no plans, we had no strategies to encourage non-Republicans to come vote," he said.
Mr. Lloyd, meanwhile, still seeking to remove the sign, got authority from city officials to take control of the community center property. By afternoon, police ordered the sign removed once again.
"It was highly irregular that they pulled this stunt," Mr. Grigsby said.
Aside from the sign, Mr. Grigsby also handed out literature that Mr. Lloyd found "misleading" and "intimidating." It stated: "Your vote today is important. By doing so you become a member of the Republican Party."
Mr. Rust won the primary with 64 percent of the vote over Mr. Whitener in District 86.
The general election for the Virginia House of Delegates is scheduled for Nov. 6.
Legislative redistricting pushed the primaries forward from June to August. The Democrats did not hold primaries, choosing instead to nominate all of their candidates in caucuses.
Mr. Lloyd suggests Mr. Grigsby go to Richmond and petition lawmakers rather than show up at the polls and "make a stink."


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