A Virginia Republican leader alerted election officials Monday to a list of nearly 300 college students who registered to vote in Virginia and also received absentee ballots from their home states, setting the stage for voter fraud.
The alarm was raised by Republican committeeman Michael Wade, who said most of the students on the list were registered by groups sympathetic to Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
“In a state which just three years ago had a statewide election decided by 367 votes out of over two million cast, this is an extremely troubling revelation,” said Mr. Wade, chairman of the Republican committee for the 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Richmond, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth and Norfolk.
He called on election officials to challenge college students on the list when they come to the polls Tuesday.
Jessica Lane, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Board of Elections, said election officials would examine the information provided by Mr. Wade.
“We obviously take any allegation of voter fraud very seriously,” she said.
Casting two ballots in a single election is a felony under Virginia law, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Mr. Wade, who works with the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, said the party would examine voting records after the election and turn over to state police the names of any college students who vote twice.
He stressed that students should not hesitate to vote in Virginia if they don not vote elsewhere.
“Students who have not previously voted in the election have nothing to fear, even if they have requested and received an absentee ballot from another State, as long as they have not and will not cast it,” he said. “Only those students who are intending to commit vote fraud by casting two votes in this election should worry. … We will find out about it and we will seek to have them prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Mr. Wade declined to make the list of names public, although he said he shared it with election officials.
Mr. Obama is pushing hard to end the Republican’s 40-year winning streak in presidential elections in Virginia, marshalling a surge in voter registration and anticipated record turnout at the polls Tuesday to flip the Old Dominion and several other states that backed President Bush in 2004
His lead in Virginia polls narrowed in recent days to between three and six points.