Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II has agreed to a State Board of Elections request to investigate a Republican Party contract worker accused of discarding voter registration forms, ensuring a broader probe into a closely watched case.
The elections board voted unanimously to refer the matter to Cuccinelli’s office Wednesday afternoon, nearly a week after the Rockingham County sheriff’s office arrested Colin Small, a Phoenixville, Pa., resident working for the staffing firm Pinpoint, and charged him with 13 counts of voter registration fraud. Small, who has not responded to requests for comment, was allegedly seen putting completed voter registration forms in a Harrisonburg dumpster.
“This office will perform a thorough investigation of these very serious allegations,” the attorney general’s office said 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.”
Initially, only the Rockingham sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney were involved in the case, and a State Board of Elections official said Friday that the board had not asked for a statewide investigation because the case appeared to be isolated. But Virginia Democrats criticized that decision, portraying the Small case as part of a potential pattern of wrongdoing by Republican election workers elsewhere in the state and the country.
Last month, the Republican National Committee cut ties with veteran operative Nathan Sproul and his firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, after a complaint was filed against the firm in Florida citing alleged irregularities with voter forms it submitted.
The Virginia Republican Party was one of several state parties that also employed Sproul’s firm. Pinpoint initially worked as a subcontractor to Strategic Allied Consulting and then was hired directly by the Virginia GOP.
Beyond the probe by Cuccinelli (R), three Virginia congressional Democrats and state Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to launch a federal investigation into the case. The Justice Department has said it is reviewing the request.
McEachin applauded the elections board’s decision Wednesday. “He’s very pleased and commends them for doing the right thing,” said McEachin aide Abbi Easter.