PERCLE: Northam’s Department of Elections Disenfranchises Voters

Clay Percle | Fairfax GOP

The Virginia Department of Elections scheduled a critical system outage that disenfranchised Fairfax County Republican voters over the weekend, as key registration deadlines approached. While it remains unclear whether this outage was due to mismanagement or impropriety, voters deserve answers.

On Friday, April 9, at 12:30 PM, the Virginia Department of Elections posted a notice on Facebook that its online Citizen Portal, which is used by Virginians to register to vote and update or verify their voter registration information, would be down for maintenance beginning at 6:00 PM that day, until Monday, April 12 at 7:00 AM.

The timing of this maintenance-related shutdown is noteworthy because the deadline for Fairfax County voters to file to be a delegate to the Republican Party of Virginia convention was Saturday, April 10 at 12:00 PM. The Fairfax GOP’s instructions and filing form were publicly available, and voters were required to provide their voter number, which they could obtain (if they did not have their voter card) from the online Citizen Portal.

Democrat Governor Ralph Northam’s state agency blocked citizen access to voter registration information the night before the filing deadline in the most populous county in Virginia, suppressing voter participation in the Republican Party of Virginia’s statewide convention. Delegates filing in Loudoun County were similarly affected, as their filing deadline was Sunday, April 11 at 5:00 PM. The agency further suppressed voter registration ahead of the Monday, April 12 deadline to register for the May 4 town elections, which includes the election for Vienna’s town council. Wittingly or not, closing the statewide voter registration system ahead of these important voter registration deadlines caused widespread disenfranchisement.

The Fairfax GOP is calling for a thorough investigation and explanation from the Northam Administration regarding this act of de facto voter suppression. Voting rights advocates and community leaders should echo the Fairfax GOP’s call to action. Free and transparent elections are a fundamental requirement in a healthy democracy. The electorate must not sit idly by as bureaucrats put their thumbs on the scales of our vital electoral processes.

Clay Percle leads the Fairfax GOP’s Election Integrity Team. A retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and Iraq War veteran, he is now a Clifton-based small business owner.  

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