Maybe a law was broken in registrar e-mail exchange

An AFP reader might have a point regarding a possible violation of laws in a discussion between the former voter registrar in Waynesboro and a candidate for the appointment to the post.
“Providing information about the manner in which a specific vote is cast, or any information regarding an individual’s votes, is ABSOLUTELY illegal – no questions asked,:” reader Donna Kent noted in a comment posted to the AFP site on Thursday on a comment thread for our Online Extra on the e-mail exchanges between former Waynesboro registrar Mary Alice Downs and the current registrar, Lisa Wooten.

In one of the e-mails in the exchanges, which related to the Special Report in the June 2009 edition of The New Dominion Magazine, “The ‘secrecy thing’: Did ‘done deal’ appointment skirt law?,” Downs discussed another potential candidate for the job, an Albemarle County assistant registrar who is a resident of Waynesboro, and related to Wooten that all she knew about the candidate was that she “just votes absentee by mail and that’s about it.”

State Code § 24.2-444 requires registars to maintain registration records and make the records available for public inspection, but a preceding section, § 24.2-406, limits access to records related to when individuals vote in primaries and elections to candidates for political office, elected officials and political-party chairmen, “and to no one else.” That code section further states that “(s)uch lists shall be used only for campaign and political purposes and for reporting to constituents.”

It would appear, then, that the discussion of the prospective candidate’s absentee votes cast by mail could very well be in violation of the State Code because the only information that a registrar could legally share with a member of the general public about a particular voter would be whether or not that voter was a registered voter.


– Story by Chris Graham

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