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Fairfax Helps Some Inmates Vote, GOP Cries Foul

Tim Craig

Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (Prince William), the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, is blasting Fairfax County officials for allowing some inmates at the detention center to register to vote.

According to the Washington Examiner, Fairfax County General Registrar Rokey Suleman and Sheriff Stan Barry allowed registration forms and absentee ballot information to be delivered to inmates with misdemeanor convictions and those awaiting trial. In Virginia, a felon loses their right to vote unless they get their rights restored by the governor. People without felony convictions maintain their rights, although its unusual to register them in a jail.

"This might not be illegal, but it sure stinks to high heaven. Is this really how Obama expects to win the presidency with - a coalition of criminals? I guess it's Obama's latest big government program: 'no inmate left behind'" Frederick said.

There is no evidence that Obama's campaign had anything to do with the registration efforts. There is also no evidence that people with felony convictions are being allowed onto the registration rolls without first being cleared by Kaine.

Frederick's comments appear to be part of a national effort by the Republican National Committee to raise the prospect of voter fraud as it relates to groups and organizations trying to register more minorities.

So far today, the RNC has held conference calls over possible "voter fraud" in Connecticut and Ohio.

But Fairfax County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Hyland told The Examiner he is "stunned and outraged" that some inmates were allowed to register. "To me it's unbelievable that the Democrats are stooping to this," he told the newspaper. "They want to count on lawbreakers to try and switch this state from red to blue."

By Tim Craig  |  October 9, 2008; 1:16 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Instead of fighting about issues, they want to fight about disenfranchising eligible voters - beautiful.

In our country, you are innocent until proven guilty. In this Commonwealth, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor - e.g. driving more than 20 MPH over the speed limit - you don't lose your right to vote. If you are eligible to vote and incarcerated you have a statutory right (and probably a constitutional one) to vote absentee.

If Republicans don't like the law, they should change it, but they should not attack a government servant for performing his statutory responsibilities.

There's one word for this - desperation.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 9, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Hyland wants to prevent eligible voters from voting to keep the state red. That's the plan? I fail to see the problem here, but I think every eligible citizen has an obligation to vote.

Posted by: bperk | October 9, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

In 1985 Attorney General Meese said, "We wouldn’t call them suspects if they weren’t guilty."

Prisoners are a step beyond being just suspects.

Posted by: NoVA | October 9, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Even more reason to not vote Republican. They simply do not respect your rights -- you are a pawn to them until the election, then nothing to them afterwards.

Posted by: A P | October 9, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow! The Republicans are complaining about helping citizens do their civic duty?

And am I surprised that the (overwhelmingly white) GOP is nervous about registering black voters?

The GOPs strategy seems to be, "If you can't deny them the right to vote, then just make it hard for them to vote."


Posted by: Chris | October 9, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

It's clearly Un-American to argue to deprive people their right to vote, no matter who or where they are.

It is no wonder Jeff Frederik's party is coming unglued.

Posted by: Nym | October 9, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Why it is assumed by the Virginia Republican Party that this is a Democratic plot?

I bet the only ones caring about this are the wingnuts in talk radio land, and those inmates who otherwise would have been disenfranchised.

Quick, get a US Attorney on this one!

Posted by: dc | October 9, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

there is no right to have registration forms delivered to your jail cell...these dems went too far...

Posted by: Dwight | October 9, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Sending a few dozen voter registration forms to the county jailhouse is hardly expensive, and if these eligible voters want to register, who is Jeff Frederick to deny them their rights?

It also smells a bit strange that Republicans believe that all inmates will automatically vote Democratic. But when you're desperate, you grasp at straws, which is what this is.

Posted by: J in Fairfax | October 9, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

The Government officials are doing their job by helping everyone vote. If the GOP wants the presumption of innocence to go away or the rights to vote go away, they should try and pass laws that say so.
What is shameful is they believe that the Democrats will get an advantage. Surely there are Republicans in Jail boys.

If they do no want to rewrite the laws, perhaps they should just tell the Sheriff and the Registrar which laws they can ignore.

As Americans we should be applauding these Government Officials for abiding by the law even when it is politically inconvenient. There is a change for you!

Posted by: Proud Citizen of Fairfax | October 9, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

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