At least 19 dead Virginians were apparently re-registered to vote, prompting an investigation from the FBI and local police.
A deceased man got a note congratulating him for registering, said Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst, according to the Washington Post. “His family members were very distraught,” said Garst.
She added that the FBI and police are now looking into the matter.
The deceased man, identified as Richard Allen Claybrook Sr., who died in 2014 at the age of 87, and the other 18 dead people registered in Harrisonburg. They were registered by a group attempting to register students to vote at James Madison University.
Claybrook was known by a clerk in the voting registration office as a principal at a nearby elementary school in Fairfax.
“We were pretty disgusted that they would use his name,” Richard Claybrook Jr., his son, told Richmond.com. “He was a retired educator and had served in World War II. He was always a law-abiding citizen.”
Andrew Spieles, a James Madison University student working for HarrisonburgVotes, admitted to submitting applications containing the names of the deceased, according to the local Daily News-Record.
HarrisonburgVotes, according to the Free Beacon, is run by Joe Fitzgerald, a prominent Democrat in the area. He’s the chairman of his congressional district’s Democratic Committee.
“He’s smart, and he understands the [political] process,” Fitzgerald told the News-Record of Spieles. “Who the hell knows what his motivations were?”
Republican lawmakers, in a conference call on Thursday, called for attention to the investigation, saying that it proves voter fraud is a real issue during this election cycle.
“Often times we hear our Democrat colleagues suggest that voter fraud doesn’t exist in Virginia or is a myth,” House Speaker William H. Howell, a Republican, told Richmond.com. “Well it does indisputably exist.”
But his Democratic counterpart insisted no voter fraud had taken place, as no one had actually cast a vote in the names of the 19 dead people.
“First of all, there was no voter fraud—they caught him,” House Minority Leader David J. Toscano told the Washington Post. “Nobody cast a vote…. There’s still no evidence of that going on in the state. But there is evidence every time you turn around that the Republicans are trying to make it more difficult for citizens to vote in elections.”