By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
FAIRFAX — Republican leaders in Virginia’s most populous county say they’re not done fighting to get a nationally renowned vote-fraud expert back on the local electoral board.
Fairfax County GOP Chairman Jay McConville said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, was “eminently qualified” to serve a second term on the three-member panel
“We were shocked by the (Fairfax) Democratic Committee’s politicization of this appointment,” McConville told Watchdog.org “We’re not giving up on this. We’re going further.”
In “going further,” McConville said the party is gathering materials to present to Fairfax circuit judges who bypassed von Spakovsky as the Republican Party’s first choice to remain on the board. Instead, they picked the party’s second choice, Brian Schoeneman.
Von Spakovsky, a political lightning rod for his national research on voter fraud, said it’s the GOP’s fight now.
“It’s regrettable that the judges allowed purely partisan considerations to have affected (their vote),” von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, told Watchdog in an interview.
He said it was “disturbing that Democrats were protesting over three (split) votes out of 224 votes taken. That should scare people.”
Though Fairfax County votes largely Democratic, its Electoral Board, like all others in the state, maintains a GOP majority because a Republican is governor.
One of the 2-1 votes by Fairfax’s Electoral Board, with Chairman Seth Stark, a Democrat, in the minority, requested that the Attorney General’s Office of Virginia investigate the citizenship status of some 200 registered voters in the county.
Caroline Gibson, spokeswoman for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, said the office could not comment on the status of the investigation.
Cesar del Aguila, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, charges that von Spakovsky fixed the board’s attention on voter fraud where there was none. As a result, the Democrat said distribution of multilingual voting materials and training of poll workers was neglected, ending in long, slow lines on Election Day.
“I have a Mitt Romney $10,000 bet for anyone who can come up with a documented case of voter fraud,” del Aguila said.
Beyond the specter of voter fraud, von Spakovsky and fellow board Republican Carol Ann Coryell blocked requests that the Fairfax Election Department distribute voter literature from private groups, such as the League of Women Voters.
“It would be unethical to distribute materials that promote advocacy or litigation,” von Spakovsky reasoned.
Schoeneman said “Democrats may feel they won (in removing von Spakovsky), but there isn’t going to be a whole lot of daylight between Hans and myself on the issue of voter fraud.”
Saying he “doesn’t buy the disenfranchisement argument” put up by Democrats, Shoeneman asserted, “We ought to make voting at least as hard as it is to pick up dry-cleaning.”
Meantime, Schoeneman, a 2011 candidate for the House of Delegates, said he would gladly give up his Electoral Board seat to von Spakovsky if the Republican Party wins its appeal.
“The Electoral Board hasn’t historically been a partisan football — Democrats never opposed our nominees, and we’ve never opposed theirs, even though there has been ample reason to do so,” said Shoeneman, who has served as a party volunteer and poll watcher.
“Hans is a nationally recognized expert on elections. It was a coup to get him in 2009.”
Officials for the Fairfax Circuit Court, led by Chief Judge Dennis Smith, declined to comment on the judges’ decision, refusing to say how many judges voted, or how many were for or against renewing von Spakovsky’s term.
“The judges’ order speaks for itself,” a court spokesman said in reference to the judges’ terse two-sentence ruling.
Contact Kenric Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward