Independent Candidates Get More Scrutiny In Virginia | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Independent Candidates Get More Scrutiny In Virginia

Play associated audio
Only independents are currently required to have their ballot petitions scrutinized.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeboy/647570913/
Only independents are currently required to have their ballot petitions scrutinized.

Some political activists in Virginia are calling on the General Assembly to close a loophole in election law they say uses ballot petitions to open the door to voter fraud.

Last year, an independent candidate who was trying to get on the ballot for a State Senate race forged a number of signatures and submitted the fake petitions to the local registrar. In the process of certifying the ballot petitions, the registrar noticed some irregularies and sent the case to Alexandria commonwealth's attorney Randy Sengel, who prosecuted the candidate for election fraud.

"This is probably the first case under that statute that we've brought that I can remember," says Sengel.

The reason election fraud is rare might not be because it rarely happens, but because it's rarely caught. While independent candidates receive a high level of scrutiny, partisan candidates do not. Virginia Board of Elections Deputy Secretery Justin Riemer says Democratic and Republican candidates are not required to certify that their ballot petitions are signed by registered voters.

Some registrars offer verification as a courtesy, while others do not.

"The law basically places the certification process in the hands of the political parties," says Sengel.

When Alexandria Democratic Committee Chairman Clark Mercer witnessed ballot petitions being collected without addresses last summer, he tried to file a formal complaint. But when he did, he learned that the ballot petitions were the property of the Republican party, and that there is no way to verify that anyone is checking to see if the voters are legitimate or just a pile of forged signatures.

"I mean I witnessed signatures being collected incorrectly," says Mercer. "I reported it, and I was told, 'that's too bad.' If the party says they are qualifed, then they're qualified."

That means a prosecution like that of the independent candidate last year could only happen to partisan candidates if their own parties turn them in. That's why some observers are calling for the upcoming General Assembly to take action, and force Republicans and Democrats to endure the same scrutiny currently aimed at independent candidates.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, July 22

This weekend you can see two classic operas about sex, jealousy and drama or sit down for a children’s theater performance that takes a lighter look at love.

WAMU 88.5

Two Chicken Megafarms Proposed In Delaware

Delaware is already a big state for the poultry industry, but proposals for two new megafarms could take things to the next level.

WAMU 88.5

Transportation Secretaries Past And Present Sign Open Letter To Congress

Congress keeps kicking the transportation funding plan down the road, which has prompted a group of 11 former federal transportation secretaries along with Secretary Anthony Foxx, to call for long-term investment in infrastructure.

NPR

North Korea Is Not Pleased: Dance Video Features Kim Jong Un

Citing a threat to the leader's dignity, North Korea reportedly asks China to block a video that inserts Kim Jong Un's image into bizarre situations, all set to a bouncy dance track.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.