By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA, Va.— Voting integrity isn’t usually an issue Democrats take up — until the possibility of it hits too close to home.
After finishing third in the four-way 16th Senate District firehouse primary over the weekend, former Richmond Mayor Rudolph C. “Rudy” McCollum Jr., wants the Democratic Party of Virginia to investigate allegations of people pocketing ballots and carrying out improper curbside voting in Petersburg. That’s where Rosalyn Dance, a current state delegate from Petersburg who won Saturday’s Democratic nomination, picked up a lot of votes.
“These are things that were brought to my attention after the election, and I requested the chairman of the nominating committee to investigate these matters further to ensure that we had a legitimate process taking place,” McCollum told Watchdog.org.
The way the firehouse primary process is supposed to work, people officially declare themselves Democrats, get a ballot, indicate their selection and hand the ballot in personally. But McCollum said he’s seen video footage in Petersburg where it appeared people were conducting improper curbside voting.
“I really don’t know, but when I see what looks to be ballots in people’s pockets, I think that in and of itself is inappropriate and requires some further inquiry as to how that could have happened,” McCollum said.
McCollum has asked J.J. Minor, who chairs the 16th Senate District Democratic nominating committee, to file an appeal with the Democratic Party of Virginia. As of late Tuesday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported the DPV hadn’t received any sort of formal appeal. DPV Chair Robert Dempsey did not immediately return a request for comment for this story. Only the six members of the district nominating committee can file an appeal.
There’s another twist, though. Minor is the son of one of the other candidates, Dolores McQuinn, who lost to Dance by just 350 votes.
McCollum received 592 votes, to Dance’s 1,725, according to unofficial election results. The fourth-place candidate, Gerry Rawlinson, garnered just 108 votes. Whatever happens with this appeal, the State Board of Elections is expected to certify results by the end of the week.
Dance did not immediately return a request for comment.
Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain, who ran for attorney general against Mark Herring last year and lost, was quick to draw attention to the incident.
“Coming from the party that routinely denies any possibility of voter fraud, Richmond Democrats’ newfound obsession with the issue is highly entertaining,” he posted to Facebook on Wednesday. “… One doesn’t have to believe that voter fraud is widespread — I don’t — to see the value in a process with uniformity and integrity.
Voter fraud-related issues have become more contentious as the State Board of Elections has gone back and forth over whether expired photo ID meets the requirements for state law requiring photo ID at the ballot box.
“I’m hoping that they will be able to say after a complete review of all the issues that were brought to their attention that they either determine that there was an appropriate procedure or not, and if it was not, then the appropriate action would be taken to deal with that,” McCollum told Watchdog.org.
Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org