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Politics, State/National

Youngkin claims to want ‘secure’ elections in Virginia; actions point to partisan motives

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin told Fox News this week that the state is “in play” for the 2024 presidential election.

A new executive order signed by the governor on Friday aims to ensure the election in Virginia is “secure.”

It should be no surprise that Youngkin is inserting himself into the 2024 election.

Executive Order 31 was issued just five months before the next presidential election. Youngkin was once on a short list of possible vice-president candidates for Donald Trump until Virginia’s mid-term elections resulted in a favorable outcome for Democrats.

Youngkin previously advanced the false accusation that the 2020 presidential election in Virginia wasn’t secure and seemed to support the idea that Trump had actually won the election.

The executive order was issued, according to a news release, to “strengthen Virginia’s voter rolls and ensure better data accuracy.”

The executive order primarily deals with list maintenance which includes a streamlined process for removing deceased voters.

Virginia and numerous Republican-led states withdrew from the Election Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, in 2023 after MAGA Republicans seemed to blame ERIC for voting problems in the presidential election. The allegations proved unfounded. ERIC is a national organization that ensures up-to-date voter rolls and helps voters register when they move. Virginia was a founding member of ERIC in 2012.

The Trump campaign alleged that thousands of dead people had voted in key election states in the presidential election. The campaign also alleged that thousands of people had voted twice in the presidential election. The claims were found to be largely false.

It’s no surprise then that Youngkin’s list maintenance improvements include conducting an audit of Virginia’s deceased records since 1960.

A study by the conservative Heritage Foundation found fewer than 1,500 instances of proven voter fraud over a 40-year time frame.

The executive order directs the Department of Elections, the Department of Health, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia State Police to update data sharing agreements within 90 days.

Youngkin also directed agencies to create and participate in an interagency data review work group, including other stakeholders as may be deemed necessary, to examine and make recommendations regarding data provided to the Department of Elections.

The order says a new statewide voter registration system is scheduled for implementation in mid-2025.

The Department of Elections was also authorized to work with states bordering the Commonwealth to identify duplicate registrations.

” I am issuing this Executive Order to ensure the accurate, transparent and reliable use of data among state agencies, aiming to achieve best-in-class voter list maintenance processes for the Commonwealth,” said Youngkin. “As we transition to a new statewide voter registration system, it is imperative that every state agency provides accurate and valid data. This Executive Order continues our improvements to list maintenance processes, providing a reliable election system for voters.”

Under Youngkin, Virginia’s voters have already faced issues that were initially dismissed as only affecting a handful of voters.

In 2023, it was found that nearly 3,000 Virginia voters had their registrations “canceled in error” after probation violations were entered as felonies, and eligible Virginians were removed from the voter rolls.

The problem was discovered two weeks before Election Day.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.