Virginia County Registrar Finds 17 Percent Error Rate In Voter Purge List

Last month, Chesterfield County Registrar Lawrence C. Haake III (R) told ThinkProgress that that he has reviewed that 2,262 names of alleged out-of-state voters he received from the state and was “not convinced that the data has integrity enough” to act on without “a whole lot of inspection,” after the upcoming November elections. Now, after a preliminary examination of the roughly 1,000 active voters, Haake has already found more than 170 errors on the list.

In late August, Virginia’s State Board of Elections (SBE) distributed a list of names it said it had determined had registered to vote in a different state since their last voting activity or registration in the Old Dominion. This move came after the legislature amended state law earlier this year to require the board to coordinate its voter rolls with other states and jurisdictions. The three-member SBE panel, appointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has a two-to-one GOP majority by virtue of the governor’s party affiliation.

Chesterfield County, population 316,236, has 220,698 registered voters (as of October 1, 2013). Of these voters, 203,957 are considered “active voters.” About 1,200 of the names Chesterfield received from the state were already on the county’s inactive list.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Haake’s early examinations show the state’s list is error-riddled. “If I can find a 17 percent error rate among 1,000, what am I going to find when I start digging?” he asked.


Haake told the paper that SBE Secretary Donald Palmer (R) called the GOP-controlled Chesterfield Electoral Board and urged them to overrule Haake and begin purging before the election. Despite Palmer’s warnings that SBE could take legal action against the county, Haake said, the electoral board stood by their registrar. “I wasn’t as surprised to find the errors as I was at the attitude of the State Board of Elections,” he added. “They continued to insist that the list was accurate, even with the evidence that it was not.”

The Democratic Party of Virginia has filed a lawsuit demanding an immediate end to the statewide purge effort. In a statement included in the filing, Haake stated that many of the names he received “should not have been on the list at all.” He added that he discovered that the out-of-state registration information for some of the voters on the list was a full decade older than than more recent valid registration and Virginia voting history. A U.S. District Court judge in Alexandria will hold a hearing on their request for an injunction next Friday.