Possible Harrisonburg Registrar Scandal?

Brent Finnegan -- October 25th, 2008

By now you’ve heard about the rejected registrations and alleged voter disenfranchisement at the Harrisonburg Registrar’s office.

Today, new information and allegations have come to light concerning hijacked voter registration forms and the Harrisonburg registrar’s son.

On October 6, the last day to register to vote, volunteers from the Obama HQ delivered a stack of registration forms to the registrar’s office. Among those forms was the registration of an Obama staffer.

But six of the forms that were delivered in person arrived back at the office in the mail a week later, with a Richmond postmark. Joe Fitzgerald, Vice Chair of the 6th District Democratic Committee, wrote in an email yesterday:

The form went to the Registrar’s Office on Oct. 6. Somehow, it left that office, went to Richmond, got in a mailbox, and came back to Harrisonburg. In a handwritten envelope, with the Obama office written as the return address.

The forms were rejected. The Obama staffer, along with several witnesses, appealed the rejection of his form to a judge in Winchester. The judge said that the case needed more attention, so the case will be heard again, this time in Harrisonburg on Wednesday, October 29.

But it gets weirder. Yesterday (Friday) morning, Fitzgerald received several threatening, obscene messages on his voice mail. The caller claimed to be calling from the Obama Campaign. According to Fitzgerald, HPD traced the threatening calls to Ellis Logan, son of Harrisonburg Registrar Debbie Logan. According to Debbie, Ellis has lived in Richmond since June.

Fitzgerald wrote:

Maybe [Ellis] thinks I’ve been picking on his mother… Maybe that justifies him lying, and saying he was a concerned citizen calling from the Obama campaign when he called from Richmond, where somebody mailed the hijacked registration forms, claiming they were from the Obama campaign.

How and why did those six registration forms end up in the mail, postmarked from Richmond?

Debbie Logan said that Ellis never had access to any of the voter registration forms in Harrisonburg. She said that the only time he was in the office recently was to vote absentee. “He did go to the DMV [in Richmond] and tried to register, but he didn’t get it done in time, so he has one last time he can come back to his old locality and vote absentee, which he did. He came in here and voted,” Logan said.

Logan declined to comment about the postmarked voter registrations or the threatening phone calls, adding, “I have an election to run, and I’ll be more than happy to talk to you at length on anything you want to question me on after November 5th.”

112 Responses to “Possible Harrisonburg Registrar Scandal?”

  1. Dave Briggman says:

    Ooops…another question I have is:

    If the State Police are investigating the matter as to who/how the ballots were mailed from Richmond to Harrisonburg, then why didn’t they have the envelope in custody, sealed in a bag so that every single witness would not have handled the thing at the hearing today?

    Makes you wonder about the thoroughness of such an investigation if the object of the investigation isn’t in a chain of custody and protected bythe State Police.

  2. Peppa says:

    Boy, the story in the DNR was a whole lot less sensational than the coverage here. My interactions with the registrar lead me to believe that she is honest and compentent. I still believe that.

  3. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    So how do you suppose that a stack of forms hand-delivered from Harrisonburg, to another place in Harrisonburg, ends up being received by the registrar’s office “for the first time” in an envelope with a Richmond postmark?

    When was Mr. Logan in the Harrisonburg registrar’s office to do his voting?

  4. finnegan says:

    See my most recent post about this.

  5. Emmy says:

    Peppa, did you expect hard hitting journalism from the DNR? I’m glad your experiences have been good. I bet everyone involved in this wishes that they’d shared your experience.

    I do wonder why it matters when the people involved turned their registration’s in. Is it procrastination? Probably, but anyone who works with the public should know that people always wait until the last minute. It really doesn’t change the need to serve them properly assuming they’ve still followed the rules.

  6. seth says:

    it doesn’t matter when people register if theyr’e w/in the deadline (dave, i’m surprised you even bring it up. the obvious answer to your question is that the guy wanted to make sure all eligible applications were accepted up to the deadline. obviously they weren’t).

    i’m puzzled by yas to why you put the onus for this on the person who was registering. he did his part according to the rules. someone with the power to work outside of those rules apparently kept him from getting registered. that’s who we should be asking questions of.

    as to the police and an investigation in which they’d fail to follow protocol as to the handling of evidence and divulging of info related to an ongoing investigation (ie apparently telling someone those calls came from logan’s son) i’d like to think that they’re just incompetent. i don’t think any of us would be surprised if we learned that the politics of many police officers line up with those of our registrar (who i’m going to go ahead and assume is republican, presumptuous though it may be)

  7. finnegan says:

    Ever heard of the captain going down with the ship? Same concept here. The last minute submission is a way to ensure everybody that he helped register got theirs in on time. The last one off the boat.

    Except, in this case, someone else put him back on the sinking ship.

  8. JGFitzgerald says:


    Just a factual note. The officer told only me where the calls came from. I’m the only one I know of who’s publicly disclosed the boy’s name. I’ll criticize any public employee who does a job wrong, but the state and local police in this case have handled the investigation of the phone calls with professionalism, courtesy, and concern for whether I felt comfortable with my family’s safety.

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