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Groups Worried About Ballot Access Monitor Polls on Election Day

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Voters make their way to a polling place in Loudoun County, Va., today.

Election Protection recently accused True The Vote, a Texas-based nonprofit that aims to fight voting fraud, of circulating a manual to Virginia volunteers that contained inaccuracies. In one instance, the manual incorrectly stated that voters already standing in line when the polls closed must cast provisional ballots, said Anna Scholl, executive director of the Progress Virginia Education Fund, which is part of the Election Protection coalition. In fact, state law permits such voters to cast regular ballots.

“I think our biggest concern is that the poll monitors who have been trained with this manual haven’t received accurate information,” said Scholl. “And voter challenges based on this information could create delays and confusion at the polls.”

Tea party activists have a different fear: that ineligible voters are casting ballots. Their champion is True the Vote, whose organizers said they would train 1 million poll watchers to monitor today’s elections.

Virginia’s tea party organizers have been preparing for months, if not years.

Reagan George, a volunteer for True the Vote and the vice-chair of the Federation of Virginia Tea Party Patriots, traveled to Richmond earlier this fall to train more than 50 poll watchers. For the past year, he has used data analysis tools provided by True the Vote to check Virginia voter rolls against property records and challenge the registration of those that appeared ineligible.

John Jaggers, the director of operations at the Northern Virginia Tea Party, said that at least 10 members of his group were assigned as poll workers to precincts throughout Alexandria and Arlington, two heavily Democratic counties in Northern Virginia. He declined to provide an exact number.

“I don’t want people to go through and do opposition research on who might be tea party and who might not be,” Jaggers said. “The upside of being an election official is you’re in charge, but you’re required to be very, very nonpartisan.”

Jaggers said he saw no evidence of attempted fraud at George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, Va., where he served as an election worker.

But George cited problems further west, in Chantilly, Va., where he said two volunteers with Election Protection were asked to leave the interior of the Brookfield Elementary School polling site.

“I think it’s an intimidation ploy, to intimidate voters and election officials, so I was glad to see them thrown out,” he said in a telephone interview with Roll Call. “They are not supposed to be here.”

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