In addition to their worries about von Spakovsky, the Democrats are expressing concern that a longtime Republican activist, Cameron Quinn, is the county’s general registrar. That means she runs the county elections office, with a staff of 27, under the guidance of the electoral board.
Quinn said the Democrats’ complaints “saddened and disappointed” her and that she proved she could be objective when she served as secretary of the State Board of Elections from 1999 to 2003.
“I park my partisanship at the door when I walk in,” Quinn said.
The Fairfax Democrats’ general counsel, John W. Farrell, sees it differently. He accused Quinn of helping to change rules to prevent the party’s elections observers — often lawyers — from walking around inside polling places and from speaking to voters to make sure they know their rights.
Among other things, Farrell wants the observers to be able to advise voters who lack proper identification that they can go home and retrieve it. Within 40 feet of the polling place, the observers would not be allowed to advise people how to vote.
Farrell said Quinn was trying to rein in the Democrats’ poll-watching operation in Fairfax because Republicans supposedly didn’t have enough people to staff all 237 precincts in the county.
“Rather than generate their own program, she tries to castrate our program,” Farrell said.
Quinn said she’s just following state guidelines.
Farrell also said the Democrats wanted to be able to see the name and address of every person who votes a provisional ballot — partly to avoid tampering.
“We want to make sure all of these voters are real, living people,” he said.
Von Spakovsky said federal law prevents such access.
“If they think that’s a problem, then they should file suit. And they’ll lose, because federal law is crystal clear,” he said.
It’s all awfully reminiscent of that 2000 Florida recount — where, incidentally, von Spakovsky was an observer for the Bush campaign.
For previous Robert McCartney columns, go to washingtonpost.com/