The arrest in Virginia last week of a young Republican operative reveals a possible large scale GOP voter fraud scheme, and puts in perspective the Republicans' attempts to whip up hysteria about fraud by the other side.
The arrested individual, Colin Small, 23, was picked up by sheriff's police in Harrisonburg, in Rockingham County Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, and is accused of tossing filled out voter registration cards into a dumpster.
He is being charged with destruction of voter registration materials and other crimes.
The impact of the action for which Small was arrested would be that people who thought they were registered to vote, because Small had registered them, would show up on election day and not be able to vote. It is not clear at writing if the registration forms retrieved from the dumpster will be allowed to count for the Nov.6 general election, as voter registration in Virginia closed on Oct.15, or whether the Board of Elections plans at least to inform the registrants that their registrations were sabotaged.
Irresponsible young man who just didn't want to be bothered with turning in voter registrations he had collected? Well, it turns out that Small, who is from Pennsylvania, was originally working for an election registration company that is connected to the Republican Party and that is the focus of a major voter fraud scandal in Florida.
The company, Strategic Allied Consulting, is headed by Nate Sproul. Sproul and his companies have been accused, but not convicted, in the past of various illegal stunts including getting voter registrations from people who want to vote Democratic and then disposing of the registrations without turning them in to electoral authorities.
Evidently the Republicans have relied heavily on Allied Strategic Consulting but severed their link to the outfit earlier this year when the electoral fraud scandal erupted in Florida.
However, the PinPoint company, connected with Allied Strategic, has continued to do voter registration and Small was evidently working with PinPoint. At any rate, it was not just a local issue, but one that implicates the whole Republican Party.
This is in an election cycle in which the Republican Party has promoted harsh voter identification laws which many fear will keep many poor, elderly and minority people from being able to vote. The kind of fraud Small is accused of perpetrating would not have been detected by voter ID laws. Virginia has such a law, which does not, however, require a photo ID as some other states do.
Virginia is a key swing state with 13 electoral votes. It is neck and neck between Obama and Romney right now. In addition there is an important senatorial race pitting Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen against each other, which is also neck and neck at writing. The stakes could hardly be higher. If the vote is stolen by the Republicans in Virginia, it could swing the whole presidential election to Romney plus give the Republicans a majority in the Senate.
Virginia Democrats have demanded that the right-wing Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli open an investigation of the situation. Cuccinelli first punted to the Virginia Board of Elections, which said that it is up to local authorities to begin any such investigation, and that, since this appears to be an "isolated incident", it would not ask for an investigation itself.
However, both Cuccinelli and the Board of Elections now say they will launch investigations.
Virginia's three Democratic Congresspersons (Bobby Scott, Gerry Connelly and Jim Moran) released a letter on Tuesday demanding that the federal Department of Justice open an investigation into the affair.
Meanwhile, Virginia residents who have not received their new voter registration card in the mail are requested to check their status with the Virginia State Board of Elections, which can be done online.
The name of the game seems to be selective vote suppression: To prevent whole sectors of the electorate who are more likely to vote for the Democrats from voting at all. The 26th Amendment to the US Constitution says that all citizens over 18 years of age have the right to vote. This sort of vote suppression should be considered to be serious voter fraud and a violation of the Constitution.