A Leesburg man pleaded guilty last week to felony election fraud in Loudoun County Circuit Court in a case sparked by a recent statewide effort to remove ineligible voters from registration rolls.
Prosecutors said Jeffrey B. Abramson, 43, who runs a catering business, failed to disclose on his voter registration form a drug-related conviction when he was a teenager.
Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Owen D. Basham said Abramson was convicted of felony drug distribution when he was 19 and has had no convictions since. Abramson "believed that the felony was a juvenile conviction, and he didn't think he had to report it," Basham said.
Abramson, who was given a three-year suspended sentence in return for his plea, was among 15 people indicted in July by a Loudoun County grand jury on charges that they lied about their criminal records when they registered to vote.
The crackdown was the outgrowth of a 1998 state audit indicating that Virginia had thousands of felons and dead people on its voter rolls. Although auditors initially reported 11,211 felons and nearly 1,500 dead people on voter rolls statewide, officials said later the problem had been vastly overstated, and they revised their estimate to "well under 1,000" ineligible voters.
Virginia is one of 14 states that do not allow felons to vote even after they have served their sentences, although they can ask the governor to restore their voting rights.
Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert D. Anderson has said the local registrar in February sent him the names of about 45 registered voters identified in the audit as felons. Further investigation showed that some of those people had had their voting rights restored.
Prosecutors in other jurisdictions have said they are still reviewing lists of potentially ineligible voters identified by the audit.
Each year, dozens of felons have their voting rights restored. Applicants must have completed their sentence, probation and parole and must have been citizens in good standing for five to seven years, depending on the offense.