MCLEAN, Va. -- Virginia elections officials say they have
already purged nearly 40,000 names from the voter rolls, despite an
ongoing lawsuit filed by Democrats seeking to keep those voters
The Democratic Party of
Virginia filed suit in federal court earlier this month over plans to
purge as many as 57,923 names ahead of November's gubernatorial election
between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. State
officials pushed for the purge based on evidence from a multistate
database that the voters had subsequently registered in other states.
Democrats say the list is riddled with errors.
are seeking an injunction that would order the purged voters restored
to the rolls. A U.S. District Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments
court filing late Tuesday, the State Board of Elections said it has
already purged 38,870 names, while keeping more than 11,138 on the rolls
after county registrars conducted their own reviews. Another 7,285 have
been left on the rolls but designated "inactive," which technically
keeps them on the rolls but requires them to fill out extra paperwork to
cast a ballot in next month's elections.
Lawyers for the elections board say the fact that 11,000 were kept on the rolls shows that the reviews were conducted carefully.
short, the system worked and there is no basis to restore 38,000 out of
state voters to Virginia's voter registration lists," wrote Virginia
Senior Assistant Attorney General Joshua Lief, who is representing the
elections board and the other defendants. The lawsuit also targets Gov.
Bob McDonnell and Cuccinelli, who was sued in his capacity as the
state's attorney general.
Coy, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said the GOP-controlled
elections board has rushed the purging process, and in so doing has
certainly purged legitimate voters from the rolls.
also said the elections board was wrong to leave the purging to county
registrars, who were instructed to use their "best judgment" in removing
names. The vague guidance will result in a lack of uniformity that is
unconstitutional under Supreme Court case law, including the 2000 Bush
v. Gore ruling, Democrats contend in their lawsuit.
"One set of voters shouldn't be at greater risk of being purged than another," Coy said.
local registrar, Lawrence Haake in Chesterfield County, has defied the
state elections board and refused to purge any voters. In an affidavit,
Haake says that he conducted a preliminary review that found nearly 10
percent of the names given to him by the state for potential purging
were, in fact, eligible voters. He concluded that the risk of purging
legitimate voters was too great.
"The list sent to us from the SBE is clearly inaccurate and unreliable," Haake said in the affidavit.
in Fairfax County, registrar Cameron Quinn said her office reviewed
7,934 names provided by the state. Of those, the county purged 7,206 and
sent notices to those voters. She said about a dozen of those voters
have contacted her office and complained that they were improperly
removed, and those voters are being reinstated without any additional
requirement for proof of residency.
elections board, in its motion, says a court ruling in favor of the
Democrats would mean that "over 38,000 unqualified voters will be
returned to the rolls and allowed to cast a vote in Virginia, while at
the same time they are registered to vote in another state."
58,000 voter registrations that are the subject of the lawsuit
represent a little more than 1 percent of the nearly 4.8 million active
voter registrations in Virginia.