The Heritage Foundation has an Election Fraud Database that lists almost 1300 verified cases of voter fraud across the country since 1982. And these are just the ones in which the defendants were found guilty. Of those 1298 cases, 20 were in Virginia.
Now some might think that only government authorities can discover voter fraud, but that is not the case. Poll watchers can also observe and report fraudulent voting practices. Additionally, the very presence of poll watchers frequently prevents the fraudulent practices from happening. Many dishonest officials won’t “bend the rules” if they know they are being watched.
Understand the difference between “poll watchers” and “poll workers.” Poll workers are volunteers who stand outside the polls handing out sample ballots and other material in a last-minute effort to sway voters. Poll watchers are volunteers who stand inside the polling place as representatives of either political parties or candidates and observe the conduct of the election to make sure everyone is following the rules. Poll watchers must have authorization letters from their parties or candidates in order to be inside the election venue.
[Election officials are the paid election staff who actually conduct the balloting in each precinct. In Virginia, half of them are supposed to be Democrats and half Republicans. In too many locations, particularly metropolitan areas, Republicans have a terrible time getting enough people to train and serve as election officials. This puts Republican candidates at a distinct disadvantage.]
One incident occurred recently in Lynchburg that was caught by a poll watcher. She wasn’t sure if she had seen a violation, so she called the appropriate officer of the Lynchburg GOP committee who initiated a quick investigation that revealed a violation of § 24.2-709.1 of the Code of Virginia. This brought an immediate letter to the Registrar from Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) General Counsel Chris Marston. He reminded the Registrar that when the mailed in ballots were being entered into the optical scan ballot counting equipment “that you are required to have present ‘at least two officers of election, one representing each political party.’ Unlike other provisions of the Code that require officers of election representing each party when ‘practicable,’ there is no such proviso in this Code section. It is mandatory whenever this third pre-processing option is in use.”
The Lynchburg Registrar replied within 24 hours that her office would abide by the Code, and she thanked Mr. Marston for bringing the matter to her attention. Considering the mass of voting law changes made by the General Assembly over the summer, this may well have been merely an oversight on the Registrar’s part. Yet because of the presence of a poll watcher, the Lynchburg Republicans will be properly represented when mail-in ballots are counted.
The bigger point is that the poll watcher was not a lawyer or other legal eagle. This was a retired lady who had never before been a poll watcher. She was available, she was willing to give her time to help assure a fair election, and she paid attention while on the job. It isn’t hard, and the RPV provides training.
Five more training sessions are available between this writing and the November election. Click on the dates below to register for a training via Zoom.
- Monday, Oct. 19, 6:30 pm
- Thursday, Oct. 22, 7:30 pm
- Thursday, Oct. 29, 6:30 pm
- Saturday, Oct. 31, 9:30 am
- Monday, Nov. 2, 7 pm
Several people have asked me “What are Republicans doing about stopping voter fraud?” This is a big part of the answer. We are recruiting you to help us monitor and curtail as much of it as we can. And we need poll watchers prior to election day since mail-in ballots and early voting have already begun. Get trained and get scheduled by your local unit leaders. It’s time to do more than just wring our hands. It’s time to get to work.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.