A former Alexandria resident was charged Thursday with voter registration fraud after falsifying applications while working for a local advocacy group, prosecutors said.
In the spring, Vafalay Massaquoi, 30, fabricated the applications while working for a group that sought to register new voters, forging forms and inventing the names of applicants, the Alexandria commonwealth’s attorney said in a statement.
The forms were filed with the Alexandria Office of the General Registrar, which alerted the commonwealth’s attorney, the statement said. A warrant for Massaquoi’s arrest was issued in July, but he had left the area and was not arrested until earlier this month in Philadelphia, according to the statement.
Though prosecutors did not name the advocacy group Massaquoi worked for, New Virginia Majority, whose website says it is “a powerful movement that transforms Virginia by organizing communities of color, women, working people, LGBTs, youth and progressive people,” confirmed he was registering voters for it.
“In June of this year, we terminated an employee in our voter registration program who failed to meet our high standards,” the organization said in a statement. “. . . Protecting the integrity of our elections so they remain free, fair, and accessible remains New Virginia Majority’s top priority.”
A spokesman for New Virginia Majority said Massaquoi was paid $15 per hour, and his compensation wasn’t related to the number of voters he registered.
The Alexandria registrar’s office said the applications Massaquoi submitted were not used.
“We just turned the applicants directly over to the commonwealth’s attorney,” Anna Leider, Alexandria’s general registrar, said. “We did not attempt to register the people.”
Massaquoi is charged with two felony counts of forging a public record and two felony counts of voter registration fraud, and faces up to 10 years in prison for each charge, prosecutors said.
The charges against Massaquoi come amid discussion of voter fraud or foreign interference in the Nov. 8 presidential election. Republican candidate Donald Trump has claimed the election is “rigged,” and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has expressed concerns about Russia’s influence — concerns Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Thursday.
Alexandria’s commonwealth’s attorney also sought to allay concerns about voter fraud.
“Given the recent public attention to claims of election fraud, I think it is important to note that there is no allegation that any illegal vote was actually cast in this case,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan L. Porter said in a statement. “Furthermore, since the fraudulent applications involved fictitious people, had the fraud not been uncovered the risk of actual fraudulent votes being cast was low.”
Patricia Sullivan contributed to this story.