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Virginia Voter Registration Forms Miss Their Mark

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A non-profit is trying to get Virginia voters out to the polls, but their registration forms cast too wide a net.
Michael Pope
A non-profit is trying to get Virginia voters out to the polls, but their registration forms cast too wide a net.

Virginia election officials say voter registration forms distributed by a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., have resulted in citizen complaints across the Commonwealth.

To reach more of the potential electorate, the Voter Participation Center mass-mailed what state officials estimate were several hundred thousand forms across Virginia. Deputy Elections Secretary Justin Riemer says citizen complaints identified problems.

"They're coming from individuals that say, 'I had one directed at my deceased husband, and my deceased husband's been dead for several years,'" says Riemer."We've had them addressed to individuals that have never lived in Virginia, individuals that are non-citizens, individuals that are ineligible to vote that are convicted felons. They've been directed at pets, the names of pets. So really, everything under the sun."

Riemer says there's also potential for fraud in the pre-populated forms. "The VPC has told us that that increases the response rate. What we've told them is a reading of the Code and, actually, the Constitution of Virginia, requires that the applicants themselves provide that information and that it should not be pre-filled."

Riemer says state officials don't want to stop such voter registration drives, but they need to be lawful. He encourages citizens to obtain forms from the DMV or state election sites.

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