Sparks Fly Over Voter Registration
The chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee filed a complaint today with the State Board of Elections alleging one of its Republican members tried to intimidate supporters of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at the Asian American Festival in Reston on Saturday.
Harold Pyon, the board member named in the complaint, strongly denies the allegations. He said in an interview today he is considering a counter-complaint because of what he called the Fairfax Democratic Committee's "dirty" tactics.
"Maybe I counter sue those people. They are lying," Pyon said.
Scott A. Surovell, the chairman of the county party, alleges in the complaint that Pyon, the Republican on the three-member board, approached Obama supporters who were trying to register new voters at the festival.
The complaint alleges that Pyon told the Obama volunteers they cannot keep voter registration forms on the same table as campaign literature.
Surovell alleges Pyon, the board member, then told the Obama volunteers "he was a member of the State Board of Elections and that the board was going to take this up."
"Several of the volunteers felt threatened by this behavior," the complaint states.
According to the complaint, there is no prohibition against campaign staffers and volunteers intermingling campaign literature with voter registration efforts at non-government sponsored events.
Pyon counters that he was just trying to make sure the Obama volunteers know they cannot turn away people who want to register to vote for someone other than Obama or another Democrat.
"I was just trying to help one person, saying, 'you have to register everyone'," Pyon said.
But Surovell said in an interview he thinks Pyon is part of a larger plot by Republican officials to suppress efforts by Obama to register new voters.
"This complaint should serve as a warning to others who are tempted to put party before country," Surovell said.
The complaint alleges that Pyon, who was appointed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) as the Republican member of the elections board, was wearing stickers for Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, and U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) at the festival.
After the encounter, Aveek Majumdar, who works for the Obama campaign, went to speak with Pyon, who was working at a booth set up by the Republican Party, according to the complaint.
"Mr. Majumdar advised him to cease harassing campaign volunteers and advised him that an official response would be forthcoming," the complaint states. "For a campaign partisan to engage in this behavior is one thing, but for a State Board of Elections official to engage in this kind of vigilante enforcement...using the pretense of his office to bully local campaign employees is truly remarkable."
Pyon admits he was at the Republican tent, but only so he could issue the same cautions to the GOP volunteers that he had previously stated to the Obama volunteers.
Pyon strongly denies that he was wearing a McCain or Wolf sticker at the festival.
"I want to be clear and fair to both parties," Pyon said. "I don't want to be in the middle of this mud fighting."
The Fairfax Democratic Committee is calling on the state board to issue a "formal written opinion" confirming that voter registration forms and campaign literature can be intermingled on the same table.
It also wants the board to "investigate Mr. Pyon's behavior and take appropriate action against him as a state officer and employee for his misuse of his badge of authority."
Pyon, who has not read the complaint because he is traveling on business, said the entire ordeal has him reconsidering whether he even wants to remain on the elections board.
"Intimidate a person. Do I do that?" Pyon asked. "I was trying to help a person."
August 14, 2008; 7:19 PM ET
Categories: Tim Craig
Save & Share: Previous: Kaine Hopes to Boost Obama in Virginia
Next: Kaine, Warner Raise $500,000 for Virginia Democrats
Posted by: Patricia Hynes | August 14, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Patricia Hynes | August 15, 2008 8:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Doug in Mount Vernon | August 15, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Chris Ambrose | August 15, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Doug in Mount Vernon | August 15, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Howard from Herndon | August 15, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Fairfax | August 15, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Rita from VA | August 15, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.