Thousands of Va. Voters Also Registered in Other States

By: Jessica Cunnington Email
By: Jessica Cunnington Email

April 5, 2013

After a database cross-check of Virginia voters showed thousands are registered in other states, the state attorney general's office begins in investigation but the Office of Voter Registration in Charlottesville is not shocked by these numbers.

[CG in 0:01 to 0:16:2line\Voter Registration Probe\Charlottesville]
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[CG in 0:16 to 0:21:2line\Emily Fraser\UVa Grad, NY Native]
[CG in 0:22 to 0:29:2line\Sydnie Soyka\Moved From NJ 6 Years Ago]
[CG in 0:44 to 0:50:2line\Dianne Gililand\C'Ville Deputy Registrar]

If you look around a parking lot in downtown Charlottesville you will see license plates from all over the country. Whether it's for college or for a job, you'll find lots of people who have moved to Charlottesville from another state. Around election time, it seems to get tricky.

"I just kind of assumed cause i wasn't permanently living here, just because I was a student, that I couldn't register to vote in Virginia," said Emily Fraser, a New York native, UVa graduate and currently a Charlottesville resident.

"I never checked my voting registration in N.J., I just registered here when we moved and continued to vote here for the past 7 years," said Sydnie Soyka, a New Jersey native and Charlottesville resident.

A recent database survey shows as many as 300,000 Virginia voters may also be registered in other states but this is no news to Charlottesville's Deputy Registrar, Dianne Gililand who says there is a lack of clarity in the system.

"It's not something that's in anyone's mind when they go to register to vote. 'Oh do I have to notify the other people that I'm not there anymore? No, most people don't even do that when they get a new driver's license," Gililand said.

Virginia's voter registration application has a section that asks if you are currently registered to vote elsewhere and for your former address. That allows the registrar's office to notify that state but every state is different in how they handle it.

"All states don't notify us when Virginia voters move there and register. We just don't hear from a lot of states. And there is no national voter registration database so it's impossible for this to be 100% accurate," Gililand said.

She says she's glad they're investigating the numbers but doesn't think there's any bad intent of those voters and that voter fraud isn't an issue.

"You may have that individual registered in both states but that individual is not voting in both states," she said.


RICHMOND, Virginia (AP)— A database review has found thousands of Virginia voters are registered in other states, prompting an investigation by the state attorney general's office.

State Board of Elections spokeswoman Nikki Sheridan said the board requested the investigation this week after the check of a voter registration database turned up more than 308,000 duplicate registrations in Virginia. According to The Washington Post ( ), more than 97,000 of those were listed as having voted in recent elections in Virginia.

Sheridan cautioned that such findings do not necessarily constitute voter fraud. The reason for the duplicate registrations could be explained by a person moving to a different state, attending college or serving in the military.

Caroline Gibson, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, said an investigation has started but she declined comment on potential cases.

Virginia joined 21 other states last year in a cross-check of voter rolls. Sheridan said the partnership is a way to maintain and update voting records.

Like other Republican-led states, Virginia has focused on voter and election laws in recent years. Supporters have said the steps are needed to protect the integrity of the voting process, although little evidence has been produced to point to widespread problems at the polls.

Most Democrats have opposed such laws. Critics say the measures burden the elderly, poor, minorities and students, and that they aim to suppress voter turnout in some communities.

Virginia passed a law last year requiring voters to present identification to cast a ballot, although the ID did not have to include a photograph. Last month, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell signed legislation that will require Virginians to show a photo ID before casting a ballot.

The law must first be approved by the U.S. Justice Department and could be in effect in time for elections in 2014.

McDonnell also ordered the elections board to conduct voter outreach to educate residents on the changes and help those who lack photo identification to register.

Story copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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