AG vows fair investigation into voter registration case

Colin Small
Colin Small

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is promising a fair investigation into the Harrisonburg voter registration controversy.

Cuccinelli issued a statement calling for the investigation, shortly after the State Board of Elections voted unanimously to request an inquiry.

Republican contractor Colin Small was arrested last week and charged after he was caught throwing away eight completed voter registration forms. In the wake of his arrest, several democratic lawmakers called on the Attorney General to investigate to determine the problem was more widespread.

At the time, Cuccinelli reminded them that he cannot legally investigate a voter fraud claim without a formal request from the SBE. That request came Wednesday after the board voted unanimously to request an investigation during a special meeting.

"This office will perform a thorough investigation of these very serious allegations," Cuccinelli wrote in a statement. "Violations of election laws will not be tolerated in the Commonwealth.  Citizens must feel confident that one of our most precious rights—the right to vote—is protected and that the electoral process is a secure and democratic one. We will do everything we can to ensure that."

Almost immediately following the board's announcement, the liberal group Progress Virginia asked Cuccinelli to hand the case off to the Federal Attorney General's Office. They claim Cuccinelli's connections to the Republican party are too deep to fairly investigate the claim.

The attorney general is the only official in the commonwealth who has statewide prosecutorial authority.  For this reason, Attorney General Cuccinelli supports legislation that would give the office concurrent authority with local commonwealth's attorneys to investigate and prosecute election law violations without awaiting a formal request from any other entity.  This would allow the Office of the Attorney General to work across all jurisdictions with law enforcement and local prosecutors to investigate and punish violators.

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