Lawsuit claims Virginia's Fairfax County is violating election laws

Suit says county is violating law by approving absentee and mail-in ballot applications that do not include information required by the state.

Updated: October 21, 2021 - 11:17pm

A lawsuit filed by a free-market think tank claims Fairfax County is violating Virginia election laws by approving absentee and mail-in ballot applications that do not include information required by the state, but county officials are saying they have not broken any laws.

The lawsuit, filed by the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, asserts the county is approving ballot applications that have been requested by mail or digitally and do not include the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number. Section 24.2-701 states that an applicant must provide this information, unless the person is filling out the application in person.

“This requirement is designed to protect the right to vote by ensuring that only the eligible voter may obtain an absentee ballot in his or her name,” the lawsuit states.

As evidence, the lawsuit cited a signed affidavit signed by Fairfax County resident Christine Brim who said she inspected 339 absentee and mail-in ballots, which were submitted by mail and did not include a social security number. She said she inspected them with the permission of Fairfax County General Registrar Scott Konopasek.

The affidavit alleges Fairfax County Electoral Electoral Board Chairman Stephen Hunt wrote an email to Brim, in which he confirmed the county was approving absentee ballot applications that did not include the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number, but had been approved.

According to the lawsuit, the county does not have the authority to suspend these requirements and the lawsuit requests the court prevent them from approving any more applications that do not include the information and prevent them from enrolling applicants who submitted such applications. The lawsuit also requests the court order the county to collect the social security numbers of any person who was issued an absentee or mail-in ballot without providing his or her social security number.

Konopasek told The Center Square the county is processing applications in accordance with state law, but did not comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit.

“We were just served with the complaint this afternoon," Konopasek said. "We won’t have any comment until we review it and consult with counsel. The Office of Elections is processing absentee ballot requests in accordance with the laws of Virginia. Voters in Fairfax County can continue to have confidence in their elections.”

The lawsuit comes about two weeks before the state’s gubernatorial election. The ballot includes three statewide races: the governor’s race, the lieutenant governor’s race and the attorney general’s race. Voters will also cast ballots for their representative in the House of Delegates. Fairfax County’s ballots will include local bond issues.

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