After a Virginia judge kicked an independent congressional candidate off the ballot due to apparent fraud driven by staffers for Republican Rep. Scott Taylor, the State Board of Elections is set to make changes Monday meant to avoid certifying certain false petitions in the future. The Department of Elections had signed off on Shaun Brown having enough valid signatures to qualify as an independent for the ballot in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in the Hampton Roads area and Eastern Shore. But an investigation by WHRO Radio then found staffers for Brown’s former opponent had collected hundreds of the signatures, many of which appeared to be faked. A judge in Richmond later found there had been “out-and-out fraud” on Brown’s petitions. The Taylor staffers signed affidavits stating they would take the fifth if they were called to testify.
The ruling has thrown a speed bump in front of Taylor’s reelection campaign in which he faces a challenge from Democrat Elaine Luria. The race with Luria is believed to be a tossup, especially given the court fight over Brown. The petitions issue tracks similar challenges in a D.C. Council race.
Brown has said she did not know Taylor’s campaign staff were helping her gather signatures at all. She only narrowly got the 1,000 needed to be on the ballot when those petitions were included.
Had Brown been on the ballot, the former Democratic candidate may have split the Democratic vote with Luria, that party’s nominee. Brown is facing unrelated federal fraud charges tied to a summer meal program.