A felon living in Louisa County registered to vote illegally and then cast a ballot in the 2008 presidential election after filling out and submitting a voter-registration form she received by mail from the Voter Participation Center, a state senator who prosecuted the case confirmed Wednesday.
The case is the first known instance of voter fraud that resulted from voter registration mailings by the Voter Participation Center, a nonprofit that has distributed 5 million third-party registration forms across the country and nearly 200,000 in Virginia this year targeting Democrat-leaning voting blocs, such as unmarried women, young people and minorities.
State election officials and local registrars say hundreds, if not thousands, of the forms have been sent to ineligible voters, including dead relatives, children, non-U.S. citizens, already registered voters, and pets. The voting group, which has ties to progressive organizations, fills in the documents with the names and addresses of the people they are trying to reach.
The felon in the 2008 case was prosecuted by then county attorney and now state Sen. Thomas A. Garrett Jr. The felon, Bonnie Nicholson, had been convicted in 1980 but received a VPC registration form in 2008. Nicholson registered and voted in that year’s elections.
Her name and address were already printed on the form.
On Wednesday, Garrett provided the Richmond Times-Dispatch with a copy of Nicholson’s registration form, which bears the name of the Voter Participation Center and a post office box in Boston. Louisa Registrar Cristy E. Watkins confirmed the document’s authenticity when contacted by phone.
The form shows that the Louisa registrar’s office removed Nicholson from its voting rolls on May 26, 2009, because of her previously undisclosed felony conviction.
In January 2010, Nicholson pleaded guilty to two counts of election fraud and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with all time suspended.
Read the whole story here to see VPC director Page Gardner in denial, and state Sen. Garrett try waking her out of that denial. Garrett describes the VPC’s registration forms as a sort of entrapment.