The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

October 20, 2012

Virginia GOP helper arrested in voter registration fraud case

Read more stories about politics under the Election 2012 tab at www.dailyitem.com

By Maggie Fazeli Fard and Ben Pershing

The Washington Post


Democrats launched a fresh round of attacks on Republicans over the issue of voter fraud Friday after a man working for a firm under contract to the Republican Party of Virginia was accused of discarding state voter registration forms.

Colin Small, 23, of Phoenixville, Pa., was arrested Thursday by sheriff’s deputies in Rockingham County, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, on 13 charges of voter registration fraud. Police said a business owner in Harrisonburg, Va., reported Monday that someone had discarded eight voter registration forms behind his store.

The documents had been filled out, placed in a folder and stuffed into a bag, store owner Rob Johnson told a Richmond area NBC affiliate and said in a posting on his Facebook page.

An investigation led law enforcement to Small, who was described by the sheriff’s office as a “voter registration supervisor.” Small was employed by Pinpoint, a company contracted by the Republican Party of Virginia to register voters.

Democrats immediately called on the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II to investigate the case, but the State Board of Elections has decided against asking Cuccinelli to do so, the Associated Press reported Friday evening. A board official told AP that the case appeared to be an isolated incident.

In a statement, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins said that he was “alarmed by the allegations” and that Small was “fired immediately” when the allegations surfaced. “The Republican Party of Virginia will not tolerate any action by any person that could threaten the integrity of our electoral process,” Mullins said.

Small’s arrest came just weeks after the Republican National Committee said it had cut ties with Nathan Sproul, after several Florida counties complained that Sproul’s firm had submitted hundreds of voter registration forms with irregularities or missing information.

The Republican Party of Virginia is one of several state parties that had used Sproul’s firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, which had in turn contracted work to Pinpoint, Small’s employer.

On his LinkedIn profile, Small is listed as a “Grassroots Field Director” for the Republican National Committee. But an RNC spokesman said Small had never been an employee of the committee.

Efforts to reach Small and Pinpoint on Friday were unsuccessful.

State and national Democrats pounced on Small’s arrest, seeking to link it to the Sproul case and portray it as part of a larger pattern.

Brian Moran, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, called for authorities to investigate whether the incident “is part of a larger effort to limit Virginians’ access to the ballot.”

“Given their rhetoric about eliminating voter fraud, Republicans should welcome an investigation to prove that these disturbing incidents are isolated and not a central feature of the GOP campaign effort this year,” Moran said in a statement.

Democrats have sought to turn the issue of alleged voter fraud against Republicans after passage by several states of GOP-backed voter identification measures. Sponsors of the bills say they are needed to prevent fraud, and critics say the laws are designed to depress voter turnout among Democratic-leaning groups.

Small was charged with four counts of destruction of voter registration application, eight counts of disclosure of voter registration application and one count of obstruction of justice. He was released on bond Thursday.

“There is no indication that this activity was widespread in our jurisdiction; it appears to be very limited in nature, but there is the possibility that additional charges may be filed in the future if it is deemed appropriate,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

It remains unclear why the voter forms, which do not list party affiliation, were thrown away, officials said.

Voter registration in Virginia closed Monday, the same day the forms were reportedly thrown away.

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