Not clean­ing up voter rolls lands county in crosshairs

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY KEN­RIC WARD

Chester­field County’s re­fusal to clean up its voter rolls be­fore the Nov. 5 Vir­ginia elec­tion threat­ens to turn the pop­u­lous Rich­mond sub­urb into a le­gal bat­tle­ground in the still-un­de­cided at­tor­ney gen­eral’s race.

True the Vote, a na­tional elec­tion-watch group, warned Chester­field last month to scrub out in­el­i­gi­ble vot­ers or be sued. The State Board of Elec­tions had given the county a list of 2,200 names to re­view.

But Chester­field Gen­eral Regis­trar Lawrence Haake de­clined to purge any vot­ers, say­ing it was too close to the elec­tion. He also chal­lenged the ac­cu­racy of the state list, say­ing 170 of the vot­ers shouldn’t have been on it.

Chester­field, a GOP strong­hold, cast more than 103,000 votes in the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s race: 57,099 for Repub­li­can Mark D. Oben­shain and 46,508 for Demo­crat Mark R. Her­ring. The 55 per­cent to 45 per­cent mar­gin was no­tably smaller than Ken­neth T. Cuc­cinelli II’s 66 per­cent to 34 per­cent win in Chester­field in the 2009 at­tor­ney gen­eral’s race.

Mr. Her­ring holds a pre­car­i­ous 164-vote lead in the lat­est statewide tally with a re­count likely af­ter the elec­tions board cer­ti­fies the vote on Nov. 25.

“True the Vote is keep­ing a close eye on coun­ties like Chester­field that re­fused to fol­low [state] guide­lines and re­move du­pli­cate voter reg­is­tra­tions ahead of the elec­tion,” said Lo­gan Church­well, spokesman for the Texas-based or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Mr. Haake re­sponded, “They should be giv­ing me an award, rather than su­ing me. I’m do­ing what they pro­fess to stand

doesn’t hap­pen the prop­erty and con­tents will be auc­tioned off.”

The city in Septem­ber seized Mr. Red­ding’s other es­tab­lish­ment, TruOr­leans Restau­rant and Gallery in North­east, on which the back taxes were owed. to San Diego, with the point seem­ing to be sim­ply a per­verse way for teenagers to show off in front of friends, Mr. Ro­man said.

That has prompted some sus­pects to video­tape their at­tacks. And as those videos, or sur­veil­lance video cap­tur­ing the as­saults, has sur­faced it may have trig­gered a rip­ple ef­fect.

“Per­haps as more and more kids see the videos, if they are peo­ple pre­dis­posed to think this might be fun, see­ing some­one else do it, of course, could make it seem more pos­si­ble,” said Jef­frey Butts re­search di­rec­tor at the John Jay Col­lege of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice in New York. “And so we could have copy­cats that come about as a re­sult of the dis­sem­i­na­tion of the video.”

He added that the be­hav­ior has been around for years.

A se­ries of “knock­out” beat­ings oc­curred in St. Louis in 2011, in­clud­ing one that killed a 72-yearold man.

Po­lice even­tu­ally charged seven ju­ve­niles with sev­eral of the crimes, but all the charges were dropped af­ter a key wit­ness did not ap­pear in court, ac­cord­ing to the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch.

The crimes seem to hap­pen in short spurts but have not in­creased enough to be seen as an emerg­ing trend, Mr. Ro­man and Mr. Butts said.

“You have to be in­cred­i­bly un­lucky to be vic­tim­ized by this. I wouldn’t worry about go­ing to Columbia Heights and Adams Mor­gan,” Mr. Ro­man said. “With so much so­cial me­dia like YouTube and Vine as ways to get video out, I think th­ese things have a ten­dency to spread faster than they used to but I sus­pect they will also flare out faster.”

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