December 6, 2023

 It began when Angie Archer obtained a textual content from a gaggle known as Our United Voices final week. 

The group, which purports to be a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group “that leverages cutting-edge knowledge science, knowledgeable political technique, and communication networks to establish traits in swing voter psychology to develop persuasive messaging that motivates people to vote center-right,” provided to cease by her residence to assist her “securely submit” her absentee poll.

Archer, nevertheless, identifies as a Democrat. Offended, she despatched a terse reply to the textual content and “spewed some stuff,” assuming the group can be discouraged from contacting her once more.

However not solely did this group attain out to her once more – they did so in particular person.

Dogwood spoke with Archer, who was approached at her residence – which prominently options marketing campaign indicators for Democratic candidates within the yard – the next week by a girl who provided to gather her poll and ship it to a drop field. Archer had obtained a poll by mail and had not but returned it.

Archer advised the lady she hadn’t stuffed out the poll but and deliberate to mail it again on her personal, however she was skeptical of the supply extra broadly.

Archer’s uninvited customer didn’t identify a corporation she represented, as an alternative merely saying she was with the “Republicans.” However the Our United Voices flier pictured beneath had apparently been left tucked in Archer’s door simply earlier than she opened it to confront the lady trying to gather her ballot.

Republicans and conservatives engage in shady election tactics across Virginia

Republicans and conservatives engage in shady election tactics across Virginia

“It was a troubling expertise,” Archer advised Dogwood. “Was she trying to steal my poll as a result of I gave the impression to be a Democrat?”

“I used to be planning to drop my poll within the mail in a day or two, however now that doesn’t really feel secure – if Republicans will do that, what else will they stoop to?” she continued. “I’ll drive my poll to the registrar’s workplace as an alternative.”

Voting by mail in Virginia is safe – you’ll be able to even observe your poll – however Archer’s reticence appears comprehensible in gentle of this undesirable supply from a gaggle clearly not aligned along with her political pursuits.

The supply of accomplished absentee ballots to a drop field by a 3rd occasion—although uncommon—isn’t unlawful in Virginia; Lawyer Common Jason Miyares issued an official opinion on the matter affirming its legality on Thursday  upon the request of a fellow Republican. However different conservative antics round voting within the 2023 elections in current weeks means that Republican efforts to guard and facilitate voting are lower than above board.

Early this month, Fauquier and Prince William County residents have been shocked to obtain flyers at their houses falsely threatening the lack of Social Safety advantages, hid carry permits, baby custody rights, and extra in the event that they didn’t vote within the Nov. 7 election.

The flyers declare to have been distributed by a gaggle known as “Virginia Voter Help,” which is a “particular undertaking” of Look Forward America, a conservative political nonprofit based in 2017 by Matt Braynard, the previous director of knowledge and technique for Donal Trump’s presidential marketing campaign. Braynard additionally beforehand labored for the Republican Nationwide Committee and based the Voter Integrity Fund, a gaggle that engaged in “shoddy, fly-by-night” efforts to unsuccessfully show the existence of widespread voter fraud within the 2020 election.

Look Forward America purports to “not assist or oppose candidates for public workplace” and till just lately, was centered on advocating for Trump supporters arrested within the Jan. 6, 2021 riots on the US Capitol. In August, nevertheless, the group shifted its focus to Virginia and turning out conservative voters within the commonwealth, apparently as a kind of dry run for the 2024 presidential election, based on an electronic mail posted on the group’s web site.

A number of residents of each counties complained to their native election officers, and Virginia’s lawyer normal responded by sending Look Forward America a cease-and-desist letter saying that the group could also be criminally prosecuted for voter intimidation if it fails to cease distributing literature containing these “patently false” claims.

In response to the Richmond Instances-Dispatch, Look Forward America is a consumer of LINK Public Affairs, which despatched a press launch concerning the group’s Virginia launch. LINK Public Affairs was based and is co-led by Matt Moran, who can also be govt director of Spirit of Virginia, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s PAC.

The Youngkin administration has additionally been behind some doubtlessly shady election efforts just lately.

Early this month, media investigations revealed that no less than a whole bunch of Virginians have been illegally faraway from voter rolls by the Virginia Division of Elections (DOE).

A September report launched by Youngkin’s DOE introduced that the division had eliminated over 17,000 individuals from state voter rolls over the previous yr who had beforehand had their voting rights restored however had been convicted of a brand new felony. The DOE – run by Youngkin appointee and longtime Republican political operative Susan Beals – stated that these removals have been the results of a newly “automated” course of.

However it rapidly grew to become clear that a lot of these voters had their registrations revoked illegally. An unknown variety of these 17,000 Virginians had not, in truth, dedicated new crimes; moderately, they’d misplaced their proper to vote as a result of they’d been flagged for technical probation infractions – an unlawful violation of their basic proper to forged a poll.

A spokesperson for Youngkin’s DOE admitted that an unknown variety of voter registrations had been “canceled in error.”

Additional, the ACLU of Virginia stated that “a number of Virginians knowledgeable us that they obtained no discover from the Youngkin administration or the Board of Elections of the lack of their voting rights.” 

Election registrars are required to inform voters of adjustments to their voter registration information, however can solely accomplish that after being knowledgeable by the DOE, suggesting that the data concerning these voters’ canceled registrations might not have been supplied in the well timed method required by state regulation.

With early voting properly underway for Virginia’s November elections and Election Day itself shut at hand, the DOE’s error got here at an particularly troubling time.

Additional, starting in September however persevering with as just lately as simply a few weeks in the past, voters in Spotsylvania County reported deceptive pattern ballots at early polling places.

One longtime Democrat on his solution to vote accepted a blue pattern poll from somebody close to the polling place — the sort usually utilized by the Democratic Get together or candidates.

However after he left the polling place, Pablo Cuadrado realized the pattern poll, titled “Spotsylvania Democrats,” was not, in truth, supplied by native Democrats. The fraudulent pattern ballots have been as an alternative created and distributed by a gaggle known as the Fredericksburg Virginia Patriots (FVP), a conservative group created by Nick Ignacio, who’s working for Spotsylvania Circuit Court docket Clerk. Ignacio has not been endorsed by both occasion, however he aggressively cites his conservative “tea occasion” background on his web site.

The pattern poll Cuadrado used to information his vote suggests Ignacio and a number of other GOP candidates can be your best option for Democrats.

“I simply really feel like I used to be taken benefit of,” Cuadrado advised NBC News4. “I really feel like there was deceit occurring right here.”

Ignacio seems to be an equal-opportunity misinformer; a volunteer was additionally seen handing out pink pattern ballots made by Ignacio titled “Spotsylvania Republican Voters.”

Virginia Republicans are additionally poised to elect a distinguished 2020 election denier to the Home of Delegates subsequent month.

Republican election lawyer Tim Griffin is working in Virginia’s 53rd Home District – a closely GOP-leaning seat the place he’s a robust favourite to win.

Griffin labored with Trump’s 2020 marketing campaign to advertise false claims of election fraud across the nation and performed a key function within the effort to overturn election leads to Michigan.

Griffin was accused by his GOP main opponent of not truly dwelling within the district he’s working to characterize – a constitutional requirement to run for the Common Meeting in Virginia. The county registrar dominated that Griffin had met authorized residency necessities.

Griffin modified his residence to an deal with – allegedly only a storage – in Forest, VA, on the identical day he filed to run for workplace. He’s since modified his voter registration to a special deal with, however he just lately refused to say whether or not he truly resides there when questioned by The Every day Progress and has refused comparable requests about his domicile from different information shops.

A handful of native occasion insiders have been elevating issues about Griffin’s doable fraudulent residency and voting historical past with “no less than a dozen GOP leaders, together with Gov. Glenn Youngkin,” for months, however they are saying that their election integrity efforts have obtained little to no response from their fellow Republicans.

“That is completely disgusting habits, completely untrustworthy habits” on Republicans’ half, Archer advised Dogwood.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood’s chief political correspondent. She can also be the nation’s foremost knowledgeable in state politics with virtually twenty years of expertise in statehouse machinations, and her comedian guide assortment might be greater than yours.