400 voter “irregularities”

Brent Finnegan -- October 15th, 2008

Last month I wrote about Virginia registrars giving new registrants controversial warnings. Now that the registration deadline has come and gone, a new concern has arisen: the rejection of voter registration forms.

It seems that today, TV3 picked up on a column by JG Fitzgerald published by Augusta Free Press yesterday, in which he wrote:

[A] ream of letters [was sent to Harrisonburg] voters telling them of unspecified “irregularities” in their applications to vote. Many voters, mostly JMU students, called the registrar’s office to ask about the alleged “irregularities,” only to be told their forms couldn’t be found among the hundreds in the office [...]

[SBE] numbers suggest that almost 18 percent of new registrations in the city were rejected, but it does not reflect the 500 forms the registrar reported receiving just on the final day, nor does it reflect any that may have been rejected from that group. Adding to the confusion, it is not clear if those who received the “irregularities” letter have since been officially rejected.

In today’s TV3 story, John Simmers, Chairman of the local Board of Elections, said that they have tried to “track down and fix” the 400 people in Harrisonburg who have received the letters.

“We’ve tried to get the students to come in, let us adjust this. Let us help you fill out your form. We have not intended to be obstructionist in any manner.”

[...] they’re encouraging people who received the letter to go to the registrar’s office to fix the problems with their applications. The problems include incomplete forms or inconsistencies with an address.

For my part, I have tried unsuccessfully to track down some of the voters who received the letter, in order to try to understand what went wrong and why. I will keep trying.

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