In The Federalist, Margot Cleveland examines accusations by the Virginia Institute for Public Policy against the Fairfax County Electoral Board that the state’s electoral laws are being broken in granting mail-in ballots. Cleveland writes:
Virginia’s gubernatorial race is seen as a national bellwether. With the most recent polls showing Republican Glenn Youngkin, a former underdog, tied with his Democrat rival Terry McAuliffe, the outcome of the Nov. 2, 2021 election seems sure to rest on the smallest of margins.
The more important trend for Americans to consider, however, lies not in the tight election, nor even in the party affiliation of the eventual victor, but on efforts by local election officials to violate state law to profit their preferred candidate.
A lawsuit filed last Wednesday in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, Virginia against the county registrar and three members of the Fairfax County Electoral Board exposed election officials’ ongoing disregard for state election law. In the plaintiffs’ concise 10-page complaint, the Virginia Institute for Public Policy (VIPP), a public-policy organization dedicated to election integrity, alleged the “Defendants are accepting and approving applications for absentee and mail-in ballots that do not include information required by Virginia law, namely, the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number.”
Mail-In Ballots Without Voter Authentication
Attaching to the complaint a sworn affidavit, the VIPP noted that “as of October 14, 2021, Defendants have accepted and approved approximately and at least 339 absentee and mail-in ballot applications that do not include the required portion of the Social Security numbers.” The complaint further alleged that the county officials continue to approve applications for mail-in and absentee ballots that lack the legally required final four Social Security digits.
The affiant, Christine Brim, identified as a voter of Fairfax County, also stated under oath that Stephen Hunt, the chairman of the Fairfax County Electoral Board, had confirmed in an email that the county’s general registrar “had instituted a procedure to approve absentee ballot applications on which the applicant has not provided the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.”
Once the applications are approved, the county will mail ballots to the unauthenticated voters for the November election. Doing so, the VIPP explains in the lawsuit, violates the Virginia constitution and Virginia statutes.
Specifically, Virginia’s election code provides that applications for absentee ballots “shall contain . . . the applicant’s printed and the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number.” By violating that clear statutory mandate, according to the lawsuit, the defendants also violate the Anti-Suspension Clause of the Virginia Constitution, which provides “that all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.”
In other words, Virginia’s Constitution provides that Fairfax County election officials cannot suspend the state legislature’s requirement that absentee and mail-in ballot applications contain the final four digits of the voter’s Social Security number.
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