Rejection Letter

Brent Finnegan -- October 17th, 2008

A reader sent me a scan of the rejection letter they received from the Harrisonburg registrar’s office.

42 Responses to “Rejection Letter”

  1. Renee says:

    I’m surprised you have to pay to file the rejection petition! I wonder if this was before the deadline, couldn’t you just re-register for free with a valid address? I’m also curious what they consider an invalid residence. Would a dorm room be valid?

  2. JGFitzgerald says:

    It would be fascinating to get an honest and complete answer about how many of these rejections were mailed out to voters. One could have, in the past week, gotten as many as four different numbers from elections officials, depending on the sorts of qualifiers government people all seem born knowing how to use in order to avoid giving a straight answer. The further question, in a locality where registration procedures have been questionable, is what percent of the total new voters were rejected, and how does that compare to other localities in the state. In many places, the local newspaper will ask questions like this, if they’re not afraid of stealing story ideas from blogs.

  3. Draegn88 says:

    Came across this earlier; thought it was interesting.

  4. Renee says:

    Draegn88, you bring up a topic about an obscure woman in Texas that apparently commits voter fraud in Ohio, without any text relating it to the topic here, except you found it “interesting”. She also happens to be black, and you have a history on this site of making a point to bring up negative things about black people.

    I could ignore your posts, but then some other unsuspecting person may come across your link and think it’s tied into the story somehow and think we’re talking about registration fraud in Harrisonburg (in this case, it’s the registrar we’re worried about and not the person registering), so I feel the need to respond. However, I’m not going to respond by getting into a back-and-forth about what you posted and letting it veer the discussion off-topic.

    So, for every obscure negative story or article or thing you post on this blog with a black person in it, I’m going to post some random positive story with a black person it it – if anyone else has a better idea, let me know, because this is a spur-of-the-moment thing that I admit may not be the most helpful way to respond.

    Here’s something positive – and in Ohio, too:

    LeBron James and other athletes and hip-hop artists register to vote and encourage crowd to vote, also:

    “Before James’ appearance, Browns linebacker Willie McGinest told the crowd he had been a hypocrite to complain about the country’s problems when he never voted. He said Obama inspired him to register and vote.”


    Now that we’ve gotten that out of our system, can we get back to the local news topic, please?

  5. Renee says:

    Harrisonburg is listed as the 4th place locality for areas with the largest increase in voter registrations in VA, with 3400 new registrants (16.5%) reported here:

    and Here’s a DNR article about the Valley’s Youth Vote:

  6. JGFitzgerald says:

    One of those stories cites 3,410 new registrations. The other cites 4,037. One somewhat wishes the numbers were similar.

  7. Draegn88 says:

    Renee, did you bother to watch all of the videos in the link? Or did you just choose to hype in on the one about the black woman?

    There’s an earlier thread about JMU students not being able to vote. Now there’s this one where some mystery person has been told they do not have a valid address. So I thought; could it be possible that some of the same things that are happening in Ohio are happening here?

    I thought you would have been objective. I gave you too much credit.

    Joe, I agree those numbers are odd.

  8. Renee says:

    JGF, yeah I noticed that the numbers are different each time it is reported. It is somewhat disconcerting.

    Draegn88, I apologize if I misjudged your intent. There was no explanation with your link, and when I clicked on it, there was one video in the “player” and the other videos were small links, so I assumed the video featured on that page was the one you were emphasizing. I also noticed that the college news site producing the video stories is partially funded by Fox News, and Fox News tends to upset me with their biased reporting, so that definitely affected my response.

    I still think it’s unfair to imply that the people here could be committing fraud, when we have no information about why the applications were rejected. Sorry if I overreacted or misinterpreted you.

  9. Draegn88 says:

    Renee, the way I look at things is that if if can happen in Ohio, it can happen here or anywhere else for that matter. I would like to know what exactly an invalid address is. Is it a PO box, a hotel room, dorm room or what?

    To be frank, I expect this election to end like the last two have, in the court. It’s rather sad.

  10. David Miller says:


    Although I find your tone to be aggressive I also believe that the dirty tricks can happen anywhere. This is why it is important to document what’s going on locally.

  11. linz says:

    Thanks for posting a copy of the letter. I didn’t see where it indicates it in the letter, but does anyone know if successfully taking either of the recommended actions will enable the letter recipients to vote THIS Nov?

  12. JGFitzgerald says:

    The appeal, including the $10 poll tax, appears to be the only way for voters to get registered in time for this election. Election officials, in answering that question, have not shown the precision they demand of voters.

  13. Barnabas says:

    The fee seems unconstitutional to me.

    Also the numbers are all in how you look at them, the differnce between 3410 and 4037 is 1 and 7 for a total of 8.

  14. finnegan says:

    I don’t even know if that qualifies as fuzzy math.

  15. Bubby says:

    A competent judge could get some answers from the registrar, and waive the filing fees that amount to, as Joe noted, a poll tax.

  16. Chaz Evans-Haywood says:

    The Circuit Court of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County has had no more than a dozen appeals filed with this office.
    The Virginia Code requires that appeals of this nature may only be heard by the of the Chief Judge of the appropriate Circuit. This position rotates yearly and is currently held by Judge Prosser of Winchester for the 26th Judicial Circuit.
    The City of Winchester Clerk has informed me that anyone that appealed before their deadline will, if qualified by Judge Prosser, be allowed to vote on November 4th.

    I do hope the readers will find this information useful. They may contact me directly at 564-3111 if there are further questions that apply to the judicial process of this matter.

  17. JGFitzgerald says:

    WHSV is reporting 3,542 new voters. This is less than 4,037 and more than 3,410, which I’m sure means something.

  18. David Miller says:

    Got word last night that one of the people that I helped registered received one of these letters. So frustrating. I helped him get the form right, personally helped him do a second form because of a mistake I found. I’m kinda upset right now.

  19. JGFitzgerald says:

    It comes down to whether the job of the Registrar’s Office is to register voters or reject imperfect forms. Obviously, there’s two schools.

  20. seth says:

    there are two schools joe. (if you want to occupy one of the extremes there are anyway). the job of the registrar’s office is to register eligible voters. i haven’t seen anyone pose any questions as to whether there were any legitimately illegitimate applications included in those 400. it’s entirely possible that there were and if there were it would be the registrar’s responsibility to see that they didn’t go through. i don’t believe people who simply made a mistake on the form should be barred from voting, but i don’t think it’s fair to assume that there were no reasonable concerns in any one of the applications either. does anyone know how the appeal process works? do people actually have to go to winchester? if so, that should concern you more than a $10 polll tax that isn’t.

  21. JGFitzgerald says:


    In anything that I have read or heard since the Registrar’s Office began impeding student registrations in August, there has been no suggestion of fraud, attempted fraud, or illegitimate applications on the part of those registering or conducting registration drives. (Those problems have cropped up in other localities and other states where people have been paid to work for registration drives. The drives here were volunteer efforts. Where paid workers committed fraud, it has generally been the paying organization that has discovered and reported the fraud.)

    As to what should concern me, you are not qualified to judge.

  22. seth says:

    maybe not. i just see having to take a day off work/school to go see a judge in winchester (that is what it sounds like you’d have to do to appeal, no?) as a much greater impediment to voting than a $10 fee for failing to fill out paperwork correctly.
    i don’t mean to suggest that volunteers conducting registration drives knowingly facilitated the completion of fraudulent applications. but i think you have to acknowledge the possibility that it could be an issue. i wonder whether it would be possible for a student to complete and submit an absentee ballot in whatever locality they’re from and then also register to vote at the polls here on election day. i’m not familiar w/ the checks and balances in place to monitor this sort of thing, so maybe it’s not possible. if you do have an intelligent way to positively rule it out, i’d be interested to hear.

    the bottom line is that they should be more transparent in terms of why they have flagged these applications.

  23. seth says:

    (and i don’t know whether you caught that correction or not, but i do feel qualified to say that correct conjugation should concern you)

  24. finnegan says:

    “… the bottom line is that they should be more transparent in terms of why they have flagged these applications.”

    I’ll agree with that.

    Chaz commented above,

    … anyone that appealed before their deadline will, if qualified by Judge Prosser, be allowed to vote on November 4th.

    I appreciate Chaz sharing that information here, but I’m wondering what that deadline was. October 6th? What if you didn’t know about it until after the deadline? Anyone know?

  25. JGFitzgerald says:

    According to the rejection letter posted at … uh, hburgnews, the rejected voter has 10 days from the date on the letter to appeal.

  26. finnegan says:

    Got it.

    Every once in a while, I actually read what I post. Mostly, I just let my cat walk on my keyboard, and then I hit “publish.”

  27. JGFitzgerald says:

    Yeah. Francis Bacon wrote “Hamlet” that way.

  28. seth says:

    i don keer who ya are, that’s funny.

  29. Bubby says:

    Today is the last day to register to vote in California. Somehow this Librul State manages to run their registration drive for an additional 2 weeks and still git’er done in time for Election Day.

  30. seth says:

    i suspect black magic.

  31. Bubby says:

    I suspect better, more responsive government.

  32. Andy Perrine says:

    What I don’t get is that the registration was rejected for an “invalid residence address,” yet the rejection letter apparently was mailed and successfully received. If it indeed was an invalid residence address, how did the letter arrive through the postal service? This would be funny if it weren’t so terribly disheartening.

  33. seth says:

    that’s a really good point.

  34. David Miller says:

    Seth and to any others interested. I was able to help 13 people register to vote. One of which (the only one to my knowledge) was sent this letter. The problem here is that I can vouch for the correct filing of his form. I had to toss two apps out because they were not correctly filled out and the telephone numbers didn’t work. I’m pissed because the fella that I registered actually wanted to vote, wasn’t registered in a partisan manner and is a nice guy with a newborn child. Since the registrar saw fit, he’s not really a citizen worthy of voting. This is outrageous. What’s funny is this is a situation where I’d like to tell the registrar that his taxes pay their salary, it’s pretty fitting here.

  35. sixftall says:

    But David, you had to toss out two apps out because of in correct information. How hard is it for people to put down their correct address and a telephone number that works the first time? The application is not a difficult application to fill out why should it take anyone three tries to get it right?? You said “I’m pissed because the fella that I registered actually wanted to vote” so have you helped people register that didn’t really want to vote??

  36. Renee says:

    It is disheartening that David can double-check an application for someone that is registering to make extra sure it will go through, and it still gets rejected.

    Also, that is a good point about the address, Andy.

  37. JGFitzgerald says:

    From “Casablanca”:

    Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

    From the Republican Registrar’s Office:

    I’m shocked, shocked to find there is voter suppression going on in here.

  38. JGFitzgerald says:


    It’s become like a game of “Registrar, May I?” Are all your letters perfectly inside the box, does your zero look too much like a six, do you have a surname that might be in the wrong demographic? As the legal actions against the Registrar’s Office begin, ignored by the local media, the office itself may finally have to answer some questions. Stay tuned.

  39. seth says:

    i’m interested to see how this plays out. joe am i missing something in terms of the facts? i thought they hadn’t been very specific about the causes of rejection. i’m curious as to whether the reasons you list above are speculation or whether you’ve been able to determine anything concrete.

  40. seth says:


    cnn has a hotline for election concerns (it will also tell you where your polling place is). i called and gave them a brief rundown of this situation. it might be good for someone who actually got a letter (or anyone else who’s concerned) to make a call.

  41. JGFitzgerald says:


    Part anecdotal, part guesswork. Part from actual rejections, part from the “irregularities” letters. Irregularities letters before the deadline just said something’s wrong, but we won’t tell you what. After the deadline, actual rejections, with a reason, and with a notice that one could appeal. In short, we won’t tell you the actual reason until it’s too late to do anything about it.

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