Lawsuit challenges hundreds of Fairfax County absentee ballot requests

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Fairfax County insists it is following state election laws properly, denying the thrust of a new lawsuit this week that argued election officials have accepted hundreds of absentee and mail ballot requests that lacked the required last four digits of an applicant’s Social Security number.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative group representing election integrity activists in Fairfax, sued the county this week saying at least 339 ballot applications were accepted without the required identification numbers.

Those who show up in person to request a ballot do not need to provide the digits, but those who ask through the mail or electronically must include them, as part of Virginia’s identity verification checks, PILF said.

The group said there are three places on the absentee ballot application form where it says the partial Social Security number is required, and that state handbook for local election officials says the digits are required to process a submitted application.

“An absentee ballot application that omits statutorily required information — including the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number — is not properly completed,” the lawsuit charges.

The lawsuit asks a judge to order the county not to send ballots to people whose applications fall short, and to go out and get the required numbers from anyone already mailed a ballot.

“These rules exist to protect the right to vote and must always be followed to ensure free and fair elections,” said J. Christian Adams, president of PILF. “Virginians deserve a gubernatorial election that follows the rule of law.”

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday morning.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the county said they had just received the complaint that afternoon and couldn’t give a detailed rebuttal, but insisted they were on the right side of things,

“The Office of Elections is processing absentee ballot requests in accordance with the laws of Virginia,” said Brian Worthy, the county spokesperson. “Voters in Fairfax County can continue to have confidence in their elections.”

The 339 applications filed without the Social Security number fragments were identified by Christine Brim, a conservative activist and county resident.

In an affidavit, she said the election board chair confirmed he had “instituted a procedure to approve absentee ballot applications on which the applicant has not provided the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.”

Ms. Brim spent four days going through applications and found the 339 she said were suspect.

The controversy comes as Virginia is already engaged in early voting ahead of November’s election, where the state’s top constitutional offices and control of the House of Delegates are on the ballot.

Virginia over the last two years has relaxed voting rules to expand the ability of residents to cast ballots without having to show up at their local polling place on Election Day.

Conservatives complain that the more voting is shifted away from the controlled environment of a polling place on Election Day, the more chances there are for fraud.

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