Virginia Attorney General Establishes Unit to Enforce Election Laws
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s attorney general is setting up an Election Integrity Unit to give advice and to prosecute violations of the state’s election laws.
The unit will operate with more than 20 attorneys, investigators and paralegals. They are supposed to coordinate their efforts with the Virginia Department of Elections.
Attorney General Jason Miyares said while announcing the new unit that it would help “to ensure uniformity and legality in application of election laws.”
It appears to be an outgrowth of allegations by former President Donald Trump that voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election led to his defeat. Trump’s assertions prompted a nationwide election reform movement.
In Virginia, state lawmakers introduced a reform proposal that would have required voters to show photo identification before they could cast a ballot. Senate Democrats blocked the bill earlier this year.
Virginia’s normal procedure for checking integrity of the votes consists of risk-limiting audits after elections. State election officials said after the 2020 presidential election audit they were more than 99% certain of Joe Biden’s victory.
Miyares, a Republican, is showing he does not want to take any chances.
“I pledged during the 2021 campaign to work to increase transparency and strengthen confidence in our state elections. It should be easy to vote, and hard to cheat,” Miyares said in a statement.
“The Election Integrity Unit will work to help to restore confidence in our democratic process in the Commonwealth.”
He announced the new unit within his office days after the indictment of Michele White, Prince William County, Virginia’s former registrar of voters. She was indicted on felony and misdemeanor counts related to corruption in office but neither Miyares or White have commented on the details.
Virginia Democrats criticized the Election Integrity Unit, saying it would be pursuing claims of illegality that rarely exist.
Additional complaints came from the Virginia chapter of the NAACP, which said Miyares should disband the Election Integrity Unit and instead try to remove any obstacles to the right to vote.
“Many studies have shown that voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Washington Post conducted a study that determined that only 31 out of 1 billion votes cast in the United States between 2000 and 2014 were alleged to be potentially fraudulent,” Virginia NAACP President Robert N. Barnette, Jr. said in a statement.
“The attorney general should focus on ensuring all eligible Virginians have the right to vote and that all eligible Virginians can vote without threat of intimidation.
Tom can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @tramstack.