Several right-wing groups have banded together to form a “voter integrity project’ in response to the news that Republican Senator Thad Cochran is courting black Democratic voters in his runoff with the Tea partier Chris McDaniel. The Senate Conservatives Fund, Freedom Works and the Tea Party Patriots, all political action committees, will “deploy observers in areas where Mr. Cochran is recruiting Democrats,” according to a Times article. Ken Cuccinelli, the president of the Senate Conservative Funds, said these observers would be trained to see “whether the law is being followed.” Does anything think this “project” will actually encourage voter “integrity” as opposed to voter suppression? Misinformation is already circulating as to the details of the law that voters must follow.
Virginia: Obenshain to concede Virginia attorney general’s race on Wednesday in Richmond | The Washington Post
State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R) will concede the race for Virginia attorney general to Democrat Mark R. Herring on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the decision. Obenshain’s announcement will put an end to a drawn-out contest that, on election night, was the closest statewide election in history. Obenshain campaign spokesman Paul Logan did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday. Herring had significantly widened his slim lead over Obenshain in a statewide recount that began Monday and was scheduled to finish on Wednesday. The race to succeed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had turned into a protracted nail-biter not only to determine who serves as Virginia’s top law-enforcement official but also to determine control of the evenly split state Senate. Herring and Obenshain are both state senators, and a win by either would have prompted a special election. And because Herring’s Loudoun County district is seen as very competitive, his win could cause Democrats to lose power in the evenly divided Senate. The GOP has a wide margin in the House.
The race for Virginia’s attorney general is about as close as it gets in a statewide race: At the moment, about 100 votes separate the two candidates out of 2.2 million votes cast. When I started writing this article, Republican Mark Obenshain was leading Democrat Mark Herring, but that’s now reversed. County election boards are checking their math and deciding which provisional ballots to count. It is anyone’s guess who will be ahead when certification comes Tuesday night. In the meantime, Democrats are up in arms over what they see as a new rule the Republican-dominated state elections board put in place last Friday to make it harder to count provisional ballots in Democrat-leaning Fairfax County. Unless Herring builds up a larger lead, Democrats’ best hope for winning the attorney general’s race probably lies in federal court, and the results there are uncertain and may take a very long time to work out. Any time a race is this close you can expect partisans and political junkies to study every discretionary decision about which votes to count and how decisions get made, a process that has only intensified through crowdsourcing of election results on Twitter. The big fight this time around is over the rules for counting provisional ballots—ballots not counted on Election Day because there was some issue with them. For example, a military voter who had an absentee ballot sent overseas might have returned home before it arrived and tried to cast an in-person ballot at the precinct. In that case, election officials need to make sure the absentee ballot was never counted.
On Friday October 18, a federal district judge in Virginia’s northern district rejected the Democratic Party’s request for an injunction blocking the removal of 38,000 voters from the Virginia voter rolls. Democrats contended that the lists used to remove voters are inaccurate. The road to this case emerged in the spring of 2013, when the state board of elections, in an attempt to combat voter fraud, decided to examine the Virginia voter rolls to weed out voters also registered in other states. The purge was conducted using a program called Crosscheck, which matches Virginia’s rolls against voters registered in other states. Crosscheck revealed 308,000 Virginia voters with duplicate registrations. Twenty-five states use this program. Democrats contend that it is “deeply flawed.” The decision to remove voters from the rolls resulted from Virginia state code “§ 24.2-404(4) and the newly enacted §§ 24.2-404(10) and 24.2-404.4 effective July 1, 2013. These statutes collectively require the State Board of Elections” (SBE) to coordinate with other states to identify and remove duplicate voter registrations to avoid voter fraud, explained Secretary of State Board of Elections Don Palmer in an interview with State of Elections (SOE). The board then voted “to refer any alleged double voting” to the office of the Attorney General, headed by gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.
Virginia: Cuccinelli: No conflict for AG’s office to preside over election | Richmond Times-Dispatch
This summer, state Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, asked Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli whether it is a conflict of interest for Cuccinelli and his office to preside over an election in which he is a candidate. He wanted to know whether that conflict required Cuccinelli to recuse his office from prosecuting any violations of election law. On Friday, Edwards received his answer — no. “It is my opinion that there is no inherent conflict of interest presented, and thus, no per se requirement that the Office of the Attorney General recuse from investigating and prosecuting alleged violations of election law, when the Attorney General is a candidate for public office in the same election that is under investigation,” Cuccinelli wrote in a five-page legal opinion, posted to the Attorney General’s website today. “It is further my opinion that any potential recusal of that office must be determined on a case-by-case basis.”
A federal judge on Friday rejected a request from Virginia Democrats who sought an injunction requiring the State Board of Elections to reinstate nearly 40,000 registered voters who were recently purged from the rolls. County registrars conducted the purge recently on orders from the Republican-controlled elections board in Richmond, based on evidence from a multi-state database that the voters had subsequently registered in other states. The Democratic Party of Virginia says the list used to conduct the purge was riddled with errors. At Friday’s hearing in U.S. District Court, the party argued that local officials were using different standards to determine whether a voter’s name should be purged, and the disparities violate requirements for uniformity that the U.S. Supreme Court outlined in its landmark 2000 Bush v. Gore decision. Lawyer Marc Elias said local jurisdictions received a list of more than 57,000 voters currently registered in Virginia who had subsequently registered out of state. The registrars were told the list’s accuracy had been verified but they should use their “best judgment” in making the ultimate determination of whether to purge a voter. Elias said some registrars took the list and purged everyone. At least one county registrar refused to purge anyone. Other counties made their own determination. The process “leads to the weighing of some people’s votes and the discounting of others on a geographical basis,” Elias told Judge Claude Hilton.
The Virginia Board of Elections has purged more than 38,000 names from its voter rolls just weeks before Election Day, despite serious concerns from local election administrators that many of those voters are still eligible to cast a ballot. The purge comes a few months after the board said it would use several databases to find voters who were now ineligible to vote, either because they had been convicted of a felony or moved out of state. But after the board sent an initial list of voters who would be purged to local election administrators, those administrators found what they said were hundreds of voters who shouldn’t be removed. On Oct. 3, the state Democratic Party filed paperwork seeking an injunction to halt the purge. But on Tuesday, the Board of Elections said it had already nixed 38,870 names from voter rolls after county registrars reviewed the initial lists. Another 11,138 eligible voters will remain active on the rolls after county registrars reviewed the state lists. And almost 7,300 will be designated “inactive,” meaning they must cast provisional ballots on Election Day, ballots that will only be counted after their eligibility is verified.
Virginia elections officials say they have already purged nearly 40,000 names from the voter rolls, despite an ongoing lawsuit filed by Democrats seeking to keep those voters registered. The Democratic Party of Virginia filed suit in federal court earlier this month over plans to purge as many as 57,923 names ahead of November’s gubernatorial election between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. State officials pushed for the purge based on evidence from a multistate database that the voters had subsequently registered in other states. Democrats say the list is riddled with errors. Democrats are seeking an injunction that would order the purged voters restored to the rolls. A U.S. District Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments Friday.
A federal lawsuit filed by the Virginia Democratic Party claims that tens of thousands of voters in the state may be kept from casting a ballot in November after their names were wrongly placed on a list meant to weed out fraud. The court action names Gov. Robert McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II as defendants and alleges that there were political motivations behind a “purge list” of about 57,000 voters whose names were also found on voter rolls in other states. The lawsuit, which comes as the contentious governor’s race enters its last month, contends that the list is inaccurate and that many of those voters are eligible to vote Nov. 5 in Virginia. Filed Oct. 1 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., the complaint seeks to stop state and local election officials from striking those names from voter rolls. The names were discovered as part of a data-sharing program with 25 other states, which the lawsuit contends is “deeply flawed.”
In the wake of a lawsuit filed by Democrats over the purging of names from Virginia voter registries, a Loudoun County registrar has been ordered to purge names from her county’s list by the end of the week. Virginia Democrats filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, accusing them of purging — possibly in error — thousands of voters from registration lists. The Democratic Party of Virginia is accusing election officials, including Cuccinelli, of pressing forward with a plan to potentially purge up to 57,000 registered voters because an interstate database shows them registered in multiple states. The voter list was sent out from the State Board of Elections in late August, developed using a data exchange with some other states. The 57,000 names are those of voters who are registered in more than one state. Fairfax County immediately started to purge based on the list, and of the 7,934 names they were given, 7,106 were purged.
Virginia’s Democratic Party sued the state alleging that a plan to purge about 57,000 voters from registration lists threatens the constitutional right to vote just weeks before the Nov. 5 election. The lawsuit, which names Republican Governor Robert McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as defendants, seeks a court order barring the state’s election board and county and city registrars from purging voters before the November election. Cuccinelli, a Republican, is running to replace McDonnell, who by law can’t stand for re-election. Members of the Democratic Party of Virginia “and thousands of other citizens will be at risk of having their voting rights unlawfully stripped away through standard-less, ad hoc determinations by county and city registrars,” according to the complaint filed Oct. 1 in federal court in Alexandria.View the formal complaint here.
Virginia: Without Warning, 57,000 Virginians Could Have Their Voter Registrations Cancelled | ThinkProgress
With two months until Virginians decide which of two polar opposites — Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli — will be their next governor, tens of thousands of voters could be removed from the rolls in a statewide purge. Approximately 57,000 Virginians have been flagged as being registered in another state, and counties are removing some from the voter rolls without any notice or opportunity to rebut the claim. Before conservatives lose their marbles that this is clear and irrefutable evidence of voter fraud, it’s worthwhile to consider how voter registration works. Each state maintains its own roll rather than a nationwide system. When Joe America, who had been registered in Richmond, moves to Philadelphia and registers there, he’s not required to cancel his Virginia registration before enrolling in Pennsylvania.
Virginia: Democrats don’t want candidate Cuccinelli to represent elections board | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Democrats on Wednesday formally requested that Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli recuse his office from representing the State Board of Elections on legal matters related to the upcoming statewide races. The request came in a letter to the attorney general’s office from Del. Charniele L. Herring, D-Alexandria, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. It could be seen as the latest attempt to highlight conflicts Democrats argue have arisen over Cuccinelli’s refusal to leave office during his gubernatorial run. The last six elected attorneys general of Virginia resigned before the end of their terms in order to run for governor. “It is unreasonable, and a clear conflict of interest, for you to both appear on the ballot and provide legal counsel to the Board of Elections,” Herring writes to Cuccinelli.
Virginia: Cuccinelli pushes for voter registration by party to help enforce closed primaries | The News Leader
In a state where party registration doesn’t exist, the idea that Virginians should have to pick a side has an important champion — the potential next governor. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, the GOP nominee for the commonwealth’s top job, reiterated Tuesday that he thinks that Virginia should change its system to make voters officially choose a party or declare themselves independent, so that parties could ensure that only their own members vote in their primaries. Cuccinelli backed the idea when he was in the Senate, too, but come January he could be in a more important position if he defeats Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe. “I’ve encouraged that in the past and I’ll encourage it in the future,” Cuccinelli said after speaking at the Greenspring retirement community in Springfield.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell called Tuesday’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 “a potentially monumental decision” with implications for Virginia, and he called on Congress to come up with a new formula to identify which states should now be covered. The commonwealth is one of nine states — mostly in the South with a history of discriminatory voting practices — subject to a key provision of the federal act. Under that section, states must obtain federal approval before changes are made to their voting laws. The court’s decision means Congress must issue new guidelines to decide which jurisdictions need pre-clearance before changing laws, and it’s unclear how the ruling would affect a Virginia measure requiring voters to present photo IDs to cast ballots. The law, which McDonnell signed in March, is scheduled to take effect for the 2014 elections and was subject to pre-clearance before Tuesday’s decision.
Virginia: Panel announces findings on restoring voting rights of former felons | The Washington Post
A Virginia committee announced options Tuesday for streamlining the restoration of former felons’ voting rights, including actions the governor and legislature could take now to advance the process. The possibilities, the committee said, include recruiting ex-felons who have not applied for restoration, partnering with private groups to expedite applications and creating a state agency to speed up the review and approval process. Under the Virginia Constitution, the only way for felons to regain their voting rights is to seek restoration, in writing, from the governor. Attempts to amend the constitution to make the process automatic have proved unsuccessful for more than 30 years. Voting rights and civil rights advocates have called on Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and other governors to restore the rights of some former felons automatically through executive order.
Virginia: Cuccinelli says McDonnell can’t use executive order to restore voting rights | Daily Press
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said Tuesday that the governor cannot automatically restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences by issuing an executive order, but there are ways to streamline the process. Cuccinelli released a report from an advisory committee he set up in March to look at the issue. He created the committee following the defeat of measures in the General Assembly last session designed to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons. Both Gov. Bob McDonnell and Cuccinelli, who is the Republican candidate for governor, threw their support behind a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent felons this year. Following the defeat of those measures, advocates for rights restoration called on McDonnell to issue an executive order to deal with the problem.
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday that he will automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences on an individual basis by doing away with the “subjective” application process. McDonnell streamlined the process of rights restoration when he took office in 2010, and has restored the rights of more than 4,800 felons – the most of any governor. In January he threw his support behind a measure to put a constitutional amendment to the voters that would have automatically restored voting rights to nonviolent felons, which failed in the House of Delegates. “We all are human beings,” said McDonnell who was flanked by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and Benjamin Jealous, the president of the national NAACP at the Cedar St. Baptist Church of God in Richmond. “Cloaked in our human frailty there are mistakes that are made. But once those dues are fully paid, there is going to be a clear avenue to reintegrate – with your full dignity – fully back into society.” McDonnell’s policy change comes a day after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued a report that said the governor could not offer a blanket automatic restoration of rights, but could broaden rights restoration on an individual basis.
More applications for felons’ restoration of voting rights could be processed if a state agency were assigned that duty, says a report commissioned by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that is to be made public today. Applications are now processed by the governor’s staff and approved by the head of state; he’s empowered by the state Constitution “to remove political disabilities” for those who lost them because of criminal convictions. But it’s a one-at-a-time process. Gov. Bob McDonnell has sped up the system, restoring voting privileges and other civil rights to more than 4,600 citizens on his watch – a record among governors. But it’s estimated that 350,000 Virginians remain disenfranchised because of felony convictions.
Virginia: Cuccinelli appoints commission to streamline felony voting rights restoration | Daily Press
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell made some gains in their recent quest to put the state on a path to restoring the right to vote to non-violent convicted felons who have served their sentences. But the General Assembly — actually, a single subcommittee in the House of Delegates — killed the effort to begin to amend the Virginia constitution to allow for voter rights restoration. As of now, the state constitution forever bars convicted felons of the right to vote unless the governor grants them a waiver. This week, Cuccinelli announced the creation of a bipartisan “Attorney General’s Rights Restoration Advisory Committee” to examine what alternatives may be available within the framework of the state’s constitution to better restore voting rights to nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences. “Many of those who helped found Virginia came to the New World for a second chance,” Cuccinelli proclaimed in a press release. “Forgiveness and redemption are fundamental values of all great religions and all great societies.”
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is looking for a legal work-around to restore voting rights to certain non-violents felons after the weight Gov. Bob McDonnell and he threw behind the cause was insufficient to get legislation to do that through the General Assembly. Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor this year, Tuesday announced he’s establishing a committee to examine alternate ways under current law to restore rights to eligible ex-offenders who completed all terms of their sentences. “There are many people in our communities who have committed certain low-level, nonviolent offenses in the past, paid their debts to society, and then gone on to live law-abiding lives” he said in a statement about his Rights Restoration Advisory Committee.
The Virginia Senate moved Monday to ease restrictions for presidential candidates to get on the ballot after a handful of Republican hopefuls failed to qualify for the state’s GOP primary last year. Presidential candidates need 10,000 petition signatures, including 400 from each congressional district, to make Virginia’s presidential primary ballot, some of the toughest standards in the country. Under a bill now headed to the House, candidates would need only 5,000 signatures. The bill, which passed 23-17, was backed by Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who criticized the current system after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas were the only two candidates to qualify for Virginia’s Republican primary last year. Texas Gov. Rick Perry handed in only about 6,000 signatures, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich fell shy of 10,000. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann didn’t hand in any petitions.
Amid fierce partisan debates over how, when and in which districts Virginians can vote, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is working to assemble a rare bipartisan coalition to decide who gets on the ballot. Cuccinelli, the likely Republican nominee in this year’s gubernatorial race against presumptive Democratic choice Terry McAuliffe, has become one of the more polarizing figures in commonwealth politics. Beloved by conservative activists and disliked by many Democrats, Cuccinelli is not often known as a consensus-builder. Yet Cuccinelli said he is hoping he can get lawmakers to set aside ongoing squabbles over redistricting and electoral college legislation to change Virginia’s laws for ballot access, the subject of wide criticism in recent elections. The critics have included former Virginia Democratic Party chairman Paul Goldman, who has teamed up with Cuccinelli for the effort.
A bill to begin the process of amending Virginia’s constitution to allow non-violent felons to have their voting rights restored was killed in the General Assembly last week. The bill’s sound defeat — passed by in a House of Delegates subcommittee Monday by a 6-to-1 vote — came even after it had the backing of two law-and-order conservatives, Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. A constitutional amendment requires approval by two separate legislative sessions before it can be put before voters in a statewide referendum. Unless other lawmakers step in to overturn the subcommittee’s decision, Virginia will continue to lead the nation in stripping people of the right to vote.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli – the Republican nominee for governor – stood before a Senate subcommittee, urging members to “err on the side of inclusion” when it comes to automatically restoring voting rights to nonviolent felons who’ve completed their sentence. The bill survived the subcommittee on a tie vote, a small victory for both Cuccinelli and the current occupant of the governor’s mansion, Bob McDonnell, who championed the cause during this month’s State of the Commonwealth address. Nevertheless, the measure’s prospects remain slight. House members made quick work of the proposals submitted to that chamber, killing them early Monday morning.
Less than a week after Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell endorsed it, a proposal to allow automatic restoration of voting rights to nonviolent felons was shot down today by a Republican-dominated House of Delegates subcommittee. Neither McDonnell’s support nor that of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was enough to salvage the measure, which has perennially gone down to defeat in the House. Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem, the chief patron of McDonnell’s proposal, drew only one favorable vote from the subcommittee, from Del. Algie Howell, D-Norfolk.
Apparently, there are limits to what acolytes of voter fraud will say. Take Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, who was a major backer of the law passed by his state requiring voters to present ID before they cast a ballot. Last week, life on the Republican fringe got too uncomfortable even for Mr. Cuccinelli, when he found himself agreeing with a radio talk show host, Cheri Jacobus, who implied that President Obama stole the 2012 election. Her “evidence” for this assertion was that Mr. Obama lost all of the states where voter ID is required. “He can’t win a state where photo ID is required. So clearly there’s something going on out there,” she said on WMAL. Ms. Jacobus and her co-host, Brian Wilson, proceeded to complain that Mr. Cuccinelli had not opened an investigation into what they said was widespread voter fraud in Virginia — claims that ThinkProgress reported were based on emails from their listeners. Mr. Cuccinelli replied, “Your tone suggests you’re a little upset with me. You’re preaching to the choir. I’m with you completely.”
Virginia’s attorney general is calling on the legislature to empower his office to launch investigations into allegations of vote-tampering like the incident that occurred last week in Harrisonburg. Ken Cuccinelli II on Monday sent a letter to Sen. Donald McEachin in response to his call for a probe at the state level into the Oct. 15 incident. In his response, Cuccinelli said he is not opening an investigation because he hasn’t yet been asked to do so.“My office does not have the authority to investigate election matters unless explicitly requested to do so by State Board of Elections, a local commonwealth’s attorney, or a local electoral board member,” the letter reads. “No such request has been made to date. … My hands are tied in this matter.”
After a two hour meeting, the State Board of Elections opted today not to take any action related to a group’s voter registration mailings that have led to several hundred complaints. The board met this morning to discuss mailings from the Washington-based Voter Participation Center, many of which have been sent to already-registered voters and some ineligible to vote, including the deceased, children, non-U.S. citizens and even family pets.
Virginia: Cuccinelli says Virginia’s voter ID bill has ‘50-50’ chance surviving federal review | The Washington Post
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) says Virginia’s voter identification bills, passed last week by the General Assembly, have a “50-50” chance of surviving a review by the U.S. Justice Department. The federal government has already moved to block voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina, saying they would disproportionately harm minority voters. “Given what they’re doing with the others states, I don’t know,’’ Cuccinelli told C-SPAN. “I’d give about a 50 50 shot.’’ Republican legislatures nationwide have been adopting stricter identification standards since the 2000 presidential election, saying they are needed to combat voter fraud.