Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Republican Party Collects Absentee Ballot Applications in Virginia

The Republican Party of Virginia mailed applications for absentee ballots to some Virginia voters, including me.

When compared with the applications provided by the Virginia State Election Board, there are two major problems.

First, the State Election Board application includes a page of instructions, including deadlines for when the application and absentee ballot needs to be turned in and special instructions for military members.

Second, the State Election Board includes a list of General Registrar addresses where the absentee ballot application needs to be mailed.  The Republican Party's absentee ballot application is mailed to the Republican Party of Virginia, P.O. Box 12025, Richmond, VA 23241-0025.

Why are absentee ballot applications being mailed to the Republican Party and not the General Registrar, where they are processed?  Why does the Republican Party need to intercept the applications?  It would have been just as easy to have the address of the General Registrar's Richmond office printed on the mailings.

Al Spradlin, the General Registrar for Chesapeake, Virginia, also received an absentee ballot application from the Republican Party of Virginia. He told News Channel 3 that groups can legally collect absentee ballot applications, "...but I don’t like it. Whether it’s Republican or Democrat, it’s outside of what we consider to be the normal channel."

The Republican Party of Virginia hired a company with a reputation for voter fraud: Strategic Allied Consulting. Strategic is owned by Nathan Sproul, who was paid about $3 million for work in five states, including Virginia. The Virginian-Pilot reported that the state's Republican Party paid Strategic Allied $500,000 to "provide new voter and absentee ballot registration services".  The Republican Party of Virginia recently fired Strategic Allied after it was involved in voter fraud in Florida.

Apparently, the firing did not come until after the applications for absentee ballots were mailed.  The question now becomes, can we trust an organization that has a reputation for voter fraud?  And can we trust anyone associated with that organization who know they have this reputation?

Strategic Allied's owner, Nathan Sproul, owns at least five companies involved in voter registration drives and political polling for the Republican Party.  The New York Times reported that, since 2004, Sproul and his various companies have collected "$17.6 million from Republican committees, candidates and the “super PAC” American Crossroads, mostly for voter registration operations, according to campaign finance records".

In addition to voter fraud in eleven Florida counties, Strategic Allied was connected with complaints of voter fraud and intimidation in Nevada, Oregon, and Pennsylvania (New York Times).

The Florida voter fraud is especially detrimental to civil rights because it involves changing a voter's address so they are assigned to a new precinct without their knowledge, and when they go to vote, they will not be able to.  According to the Miami Herald, the "Florida Division of Elections has received more than 1.3 million forms from third party organizations of voters who registered for the first time or changed their information".  If even 2% of the third-party voter registrations prevent some from voting, that would be 26,000 people who are denied their right to vote.

Read more here:"
Governor Rick Scott of Florida, the torchbearer of purging voter rolls and self-appointed defender of a person's right to vote (as long as that person meets certain criteria), is still silent on the actions of Strategic Allied. (Huffington Post)

What will happen to the people who receive the same mailing I received and decide to mail it in?  If they are Democrats (and Republicans and Democrats have lists of party affiliations), will their application be tossed?  Or their address changed to a different precinct?  (The application includes a change of address section.)

Interesting dilemmas we voters face when trying to engage in civic participation.

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