The Virginia Democratic and Republican parties are beefing up their legal teams and are ready to plead the gubernatorial election on Tuesday in a likely photo-finish of the race.
The state’s political parties and the campaigns of Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe have used powerful law firms to monitor polls and election officials, and to prepare for the types of court confrontations that are emerging. are increasingly a staple of American elections.
A Virginia Republican Party official said the voter integrity operation on election day “is the largest in state history.”
The legal maneuvers are understandable because the race is neck and neck and is played with new electoral laws. This is the first election since Virginia passed certain voting laws, including 45 days of advance voting without excuse, early voting on Sundays, and prepaid postage for mail ballots.
Lawsuits from both sides and their allies were filed in anticipation of challenges over how quickly ballots were delivered to voters, filled out, deposited and then processed by election officials.
A lawsuit was filed on October 20 by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative organization representing electoral integrity activists in Fairfax County. The lawsuit claims that county election officials accepted hundreds of postal and postal ballot requests that lack the last four digits of a voter’s social security number, as required by law. State.
The lawsuit in Fairfax was filed weeks after the county supervisory board asked Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, to drop the witness signature requirement for mail-in ballots.
Within days, the Virginia Democratic Party filed a lawsuit arguing that local branches of the US Postal Service had failed to process and deliver election materials in time for more than 300,000 Virginians to vote before the deadline.
The lawsuit focuses on three heavily Democratic areas – Albemarle, Portsmouth and James City – where Democrats say the delay is “significant” and particularly “glaring”.
“Thousands of postal ballots currently lie in Commonwealth postal facilities, untreated for weeks,” the trial said.
In this case, the state Democratic Party is represented by Elias Law Group, a company run by lawyer and longtime Democratic election campaigner Marc Elias. Mr Elias opened his law firm in late August when he left the powerful Washington law firm Perkins Coie after nearly three decades. He brought with him more than 13 lawyers, including 10 partners.
Republicans were taken aback in the 2020 presidential election cycle when legal teams led by Mr. Elias filed at least 32 lawsuits in 19 states over election laws. Some of these cases have led to changes in election laws in key states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona.
After the election, President Trump and his allies urged Republican-led state legislatures to conduct ballot audits and enact laws to require voters to present photo ID and ban harvesting ballots.
Republicans have pumped up their voter integrity teams at the national and state levels for the next big fight – Virginia, where Mr. McAuliffe and Mr. Youngkin are locked in a close race.
President Rich Anderson said the state Republican Party had “a substantial legal presence” around the Commonwealth.
“We have a full-time 11-person electoral integrity team. The leader of this team is our statewide Chief Electoral Officer. He is a lawyer steeped in electoral law, ”Anderson told the Washington Times.
“In addition to this Election Integrity Team, we have assembled a sizable team of attorneys who will in effect run a war room in a central location and be ready to respond throughout the day to any irregularities reported during the election. of a given ballot. And likewise, all night long during the count, ”he said.
The Virginia Democratic Party and the McAuliffe campaign declined to give the Washington Times details of their internal legal workings.
Mr Youngkin, who called the 2020 election results “certifiable fair,” is ready to take legal action if he and his campaign team believe there are differences, Mr Anderson said.
“I think if there is the slightest discernment that something wrong has happened, that there are irregularities. I can tell you Republicans are in a fighting mood, ”he said. “The Youngkin team said they expect this to be a fair election, but if they discern that it is not, they are not going to turn around and play dead if they discern that wrongdoing is happening. “