PW election official in hot water over absentee ballots

Washingtonpost.com:

 

RICHMOND — Election officials in Prince William County this week asked the Commonwealth’s attorney to investigate one of their own.

They say Guy Anthony Guiffré, a member of the county electoral board, might have broken state and federal laws in his quest to determine whether someone improperly used technology to impersonate voters in last month’s election.

At issue is a state rule that says a voter can apply for an absentee ballot online using an electronic signature instead of the old-fashioned way — with paper and pen.

Guiffré, a Republican, says the system opens the door to fraud. To prove it, he recruited four friends — while the county’s registrar was away — to inspect 151 absentee ballot documents and registration records laden with Social Security numbers and other personal information. In doing so, Democrats say, he compromised the meticulous process used to handle ballots, usurped his authority and violated voter privacy.

“It’s my obligation as an individual electoral board member to make sure if I see something that looks extremely suspicious to do something about it,” he said.
State election officials, the two Democrats on the county’s electoral board and the registrar don’t see it that way.

 

Guiffre apparently went looking for cheaters.

 Democrats accuse rogue elections official of compromising voter privacy – The Washington Post

In the meantime, Guiffré said he can’t understand what all the fuss is about when he’s simply seeking fairness.

After the Nov. 3 election, he made sure that absentee ballot envelopes were not sealed at the clerk of court’s office, per protocol, and instead kept separate in the county office, according to the state’s letter. About two weeks later, he and four Republicans, whom he had deputized using the same oath poll workers take, went to the office while the registrar was absent — a situation Guiffré calls a coincidence.

The group — who had no training in handwriting analysis — compared the envelopes with registration records and made photocopies. Then, Guiffré said, he told staff that an inch-and-a-half-thick stack of copies could be destroyed.

I guess I was spied on.  The irony is, Jackson Miller sent out mass emailings that you could request an absentee ballot online now.

Great news.  I never know if my gamey knee is going to work or not.  If it isn’t working, there is no way I can struggle through a polling center.  If it is working, I can walk right in.  The thing is, I never know and this has been a bad summer and fall with this knee.

I wasn’t going to take any chances so I applied to vote absentee.  I got my ballot a couple of days later and that was the name of that tune.  I did nothing illegal or even questionable.  I voted.  I think all voters should have the option of voting absentee, as a matter of fact.  It would be far cheaper that running those machines all day long.

So what was Guiffre looking for?  I have no idea how to cheat on an absentee ballot.  Can someone enlighten me?  I expect my signature has changed since I registered to vote some ….ahem…cough..choke…sputter…years ago.   I am sure it is worse.

Why do some people expect wrong-doing out of everyone?  The sad thing is, there are too many people in this country who do not exercise their right to vote.  Frankly, it often becomes too much of a pain in the tail, especially if you have to race home to get to the polls or hobble in on a bad knee or shout out your name and address, including dorky middle name in some cases, in front of lots of strangers.

I hope Tony Guiffre is embarrassed.  He needs a good slap on the wrists for snooping when he wasn’t authorized to do so.

10 Thoughts to “PW election official in hot water over absentee ballots”

  1. Censored bybvbl

    Too bad the WaPo didn’t name the other four toadies involved in this escapade.

    1. I thought the same thing. The entire move was just paranoid. If there was reason to believe voting impropriety was going on, the registrar should have been notified, along with the evidence.

  2. Pat.Herve

    Yet another person that thinks he/she has the authority to do something. If he thinks there were wrongdoings, he should have voiced them – and if nothing happened voice them louder somewhere else. He should not be doing his own investigation – and self deputizing individuals. I wonder how he picked those fools.

    1. I find it rather shocking that he was able to unilaterally access information that he was really not entitled to access. I feel like my privacy has been violated and I do have standing on this issue, since I voted absentee. (the mail in kind)

  3. Censored bybvbl

    Are the individuals’ names subject to a FOIA request since they were “deputized”? I’ve only had to vote by absentee ballot once so haven’t been impacted by this.

    1. That’s a good question. I wonder how we find out?

  4. Harry Wiggins

    4349 Ridgewood Center Drive
    POB 1523
    Woodbridge, VA 22195
    Harry W. Wiggins, Chair (202)255-6714
    hwiggins01@yahoo.com
    http://www.pwcdems.com

    December 2, 2015

    James B. Alcorn, Chair
    Virginia State Board of Elections
    Washington Building
    1100 Bank Street, First Floor
    Richmond, VA 23219

    Clara Belle Wheeler, Vice Chair
    Virginia State Board of Elections

    Singleton B. McAllister, Secretary
    Virginia State Board of Elections

    Edgardo Cortes, Commissioner
    Virginia Department of Elections

    Dear Members of the Virginia State Board of Elections and Commissioner Cortes:

    I am writing to ask that the State Board of Elections initiate an investigation or in the alternative a referral to the Commonweath’s Attorney General regarding the apparent unlawful actions of the Chairman of the Prince William County Electoral Board, Guy A. Guiffre.

    The basis for this request is several instances where voter fraud was attempted or where Chairman Guiffre has abused his power and directed staff at the Prince William County Electoral Board to perform unlawful actions at his direction. During the election cycle that culminated with the General Election on November 3, 2015, Chairman Guiffre initiated numerous false requests for absentee ballots, the incident that I am most familiar with happened in October when Chairman Guiffre submitted a fraudulent request for an absentee ballot using an abbreviated name and his office address in Manassas rather than his home address in Haymarket. More recently Chairman Guiffre began a systematic review of absentee ballot requests and returns with four newly sworn in election officers. I will not go into the specifics of his actions, but expect a thorough investigation will result in Chairman Guiffre being charged criminally for his actions.

    Please advise me of any and all actions the State Board of Elections plans to pursue in this matter.

    Cordially,

    Harry W. Wiggins
    Chair, Prince William County Democratic Committee

  5. Earnie Porta

    Originally posted elsewhere on this blog on December 16:

    I received an update a little while ago regarding the alleged misconduct of Tony Guiffre, the Republican Chair of the Prince William County Electoral Board. Tony was to appear yesterday before the Virginia State Board of Elections to answer allegations regarding violations of state election law. Apparently, the inquiry before the Electoral Board was postponed until some time in January due to the alleged illness of the Democratic Chair of the State Electoral Board.

    As reported by the Washington Post and this blog some time ago, allegedly contrary to law, Guiffre “deputized” four individuals to review personal information on absentee ballot applications for evidence of fraud. These individuals allegedly reviewed signatures and other personal information, though it is unclear that they had any particularly relevant expertise to do so. The names of the other four individuals involved is publicly available, and they were Marie Hoerst, Deborah Weber, Jan Burch, and Dorothy Miller. Each is a strong Republican, three are financial contributors to various Republican candidates and elected officials, and at least two are current or former officers of the Bull Run Republican Women’s Club.

    Guiffre’s allegedly illegal activities, however, appear to go beyond the review of the absentee ballot applications. He is alleged to have additionally submitted one or more false absentee ballot applications himself in an attempt to demonstrate that he could fraudulently obtain a ballot.

    Both such actions are potentially serious violations of Virginia law, the first apparently because it constitutes the illegal disclosure of individual social security numbers and the second because it constitutes filing false information on a government form. One source has indicated that State Senator Dick Black is attempting to assist in defending Tony Guiffre.

    Comments on the earlier blog post regarding this issue speculated about Tony Guiffre’s motives. I can speak in part directly to that from my own experience. Before Election Day this year, I went to a special meeting of the Electoral Board at which Tony Guiffre expressed his frustration at the number of absentee ballot applications that Delegate Scott Surovell (now Senator-elect Surovell) had filed electronically. As some will remember, this issue of electronic filing came up in a Republican primary this year between Speaker Howell and Susan Stimson. Speaker Howell had obtained a ruling from the State Board of Elections that absentee ballot applications could be filed electronically. Surovell turned out to be very effective in signing up people in this fashion to the consternation of Guiffre and other Republicans who desperately wanted to stop Surovell from being able to do so. It was, frankly, discouraging to witness an Electoral Board member so focused on reducing voter turnout. It seems clear that this latest ill-advised action by Guiffre and four others was a last, desperate attempt to see if they could demonstrate that Surovell had done something fraudulent.

  6. Earnie Porta

    Some additional information has come to light regarding the alleged misconduct of Tony Guiffre, the Republican Chair of the Prince William County Electoral Board. The allegations are more serious than originally thought. Apparently the complainants are asserting not only that Tony Guiffre and associates violated election law, but that they did so in a premeditated fashion with the specific intent of circumventing the instructions of the State Board of Elections and Virginia law.

    As I posted on December 16, Tony Guiffre was particularly angst-ridden about the success of Scott Surovell in signing up people electronically to receive absentee ballots — a process essentially pioneered in Virginia by Republican Speaker of the House Bill Howell in a Republican primary earlier this year. Guiffre was apparently so upset with Surovell’s success that before the election he was allegedly instructed by the State Board of Elections that he had no authority to evaluate signatures on absentee ballots cast.

    The normal procedure for absentee ballots is that after they are counted they are promptly sent to the Clerk of the Court. Once with the Clerk, they can only be examined by order of the Circuit Court or the State Board of Elections. To circumvent this, Guiffre prevented the Elections staff from transmitting the ballots to the Clerk of the Court in the normal time frame. Then on Monday, November 9, with the Registrar absent, he brought in Republican activists Marie Hoerst, Deborah Weber, Jan Burch, and Dorothy Miller, to have them compare the signatures on the absentee ballots with the signatures on the individuals’ voter registrations (none, of course, where trained or expert in such forensics). Guiffre allegedly asserts that this did not violate the instructions of the State Board of Elections because he did it after the election, not before, and did not illegally make protected private information public because he swore in Marie Hoerst, Deborah Weber, Jan Burch, and Dorothy Miller as elections officers. According to complainants, however, this was not only a violation of the instructions from the State Board of Elections, but was patently illegal, since all elections officials have to be sworn in by all three members of the Board of Elections together — a procedure reasonably designed to prevent just the sort of potentially inappropriate behavior in which Guiffre was allegedly engaged.

    The situation got worse. Guiffre and associates did not finish on Monday, November 9, but came back the next day, Tuesday, November 10. Guiffre, however, allegedly did not even stay with Hoerst, Weber, Burch, and Miller the entire time on Tuesday, but left them part-way through the day.

    All of this is reported to have caused significant consternation to the professional elections staff, who contacted their supervisor, the Registrar, who had been away while Guiffre and associates undertook their activities.

    Guiffre then left all the materials he had found/put together in the Office of Elections and then in an apparent attempt to conceal or minimize what he had done, subsequently tried to obtain them himself after complaints about his activity were filed. He allegedly went so far as to submit a FOIA request to get them, only to be rebuffed because they had been secured by the State Police as a part of the investigation into Guiffre’s activities. State Senator Dick Black was enlisted to aid Guiffre, and allegedly also submitted a futile FOIA request.

    Now, both the State Board of Elections and the Commonwealth Attorney are reportedly investigating.

  7. It seems like tampering with ballots should have some penalty, especially by members of a political party who seem to want to do all they can to curb any indication of voter fraud.

    I don’t know the ladies involved but why would they involve themselves in something so outside the norm of regular voting? Was it their job? What does “deputizing” mean in this context? Did they see personal information like social security numbers, addresses, etc?

    Note to all, the date on the post has been changed. I moved the post up to the front page because there was more information about it. In the “real media” this story has gotten buried. I did not want that to happen here on Moonhowlings.

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