Election officials across Virginia are grappling with how to follow through with a directive from the State Board of Elections to purge up to 57,000 registered voters from the state rolls — a move that has prompted a lawsuit from the Democratic Party of Virginia and outright defiance by at least one registrar. The state, working this year for the first time as part of a multistate program intended to validate voters, says it is required by law to conduct maintenance on voter lists and is not canceling voters but directing local registrars to review registrants carefully. The program provides information to election boards about voters who are registered in more than one state. But the timing of the move — weeks before the state’s gubernatorial election — has raised eyebrows. The state Democratic Party filed a lawsuit this month and asked a federal court for an injunction. A high number of registered voters and a large turnout generally are considered to be advantages for Democrats. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18 — three days after the voter registration deadline passes in Virginia.
“Local election officials in counties throughout the state have identified countless errors in the SBE’s list of 57,000,” the lawsuit says. It further argues that the purge is being enforced by Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, “notwithstanding the direct conflict of interest that Cuccinelli has as the Republican gubernatorial candidate.”
About 5.2 million people overall were registered to vote in Virginia as of Oct. 1.
Chesterfield County registrar Lawrence Haake has determined that close to 200 people on the list of 2,262 provided to him are qualified Virginia voters and has indicated that he will delay checking the lists until next year because there is not enough time before the Nov. 5 election to do so properly.