Judge Rules Against GOP In Virginia Voter Suppression Case

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A judge has dismissed a lawsuit in Virginia alleging that certain local election authorities had improperly accepted a slew of mail-in ballot applications. Mail-in voting has frequently been a target of overzealous right-wingers spreading conspiracy theories about the integrity of the election system in the United States, although — as with other forms of voting — no legitimate evidence of systematic fraud has been uncovered.

The Virginia lawsuit, which was filed against the Fairfax County Office of Elections, was dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiff did not have the appropriate legal standing to bring the case. That plaintiff was the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, a non-profit organization, and lawsuits such as the case that it filed are only permitted under the laws of Virginia to be lodged by an “aggrieved voter,” candidates, campaigns, or parties. As summarized by a news radio station that serves parts of Virginia, although ‘the institute said it’s dedicated to fair elections, [Judge Michael] Devine said that didn’t put them into the category of a party with a direct interest: “Everybody who votes shares that interest.”‘

Originally, the plaintiff claimed that the Fairfax authorities were accepting mail-in ballot applications without the last four digits of the respective voters’ Social Security numbers included, although such data is required by Virginia law to be put on the applications. The defendants’ side has admitted that they were, in fact, accepting certain mail-in ballot applications with the Social Security data left off.

As the admission to which local authorities agreed put it, Fairfax County General Registrar Scott Konopasek “has accepted and approved some applications for absentee and ‘vote by mail’ ballots that were submitted by mail (or other remote means) that did not include the last four digits of the applicants’ Social Security numbers.” This does not mean that there is any kind of substantive election integrity problem. Whether every i was dotted and every t crossed does not necessarily relate to whether someone is eligible to vote, and blocking people from participating in elections on mere technical grounds seems to go right against democracy.