The Fairfax County Democratic Committee is suing state and local elections officials over what the committee says is an illegal attempt by Republicans to change rules about elections observers with the aim of reducing votes in Virginia’s biggest Democratic stronghold. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Fairfax County Circuit Court, centers on what Democrats say are new restrictions on party observers inside polling places.
For years, the Democrats say, both parties’ observers — often lawyers — have been able to move freely at polling stations. They couldn’t say anything about how voters should cast their ballots, but they could speak with them about their rights. This year, though, volunteer poll workers are being advised in training that the observers may do nothing more than watch.
Among other things, that means the observers wouldn’t be allowed to advise voters who lack proper identification that they can go home and get it, said Cesar del Aguila, chairman of the Fairfax Democratic Committee. Nor would they be able to intervene when voters are improperly issued provisional ballots, which don’t always end up being counted.