Republicans have been the biggest proponents of the myth of widespread voter fraud in recent years, using it to justify multi-state voter ID campaigns. But in the last few weeks, GOP-affiliated groups have been implicated in the very fraud some Republicans claim they want to stop.
In Virginia on Thursday night, a Pennsylvania resident named Colin Small was arrested and charged with destroying voter registration forms in Rockingham County. Small was employed by Pinpoint, a company that had been hired to register voters for the Republican Party of Virginia.
The story is similar to that of Strategic Allied Consulting (SAC). The organization was hired in major battleground states across the country, including Virginia, to register voters. That company, owned by Republican Nathan Sproul, was fired last month by the Republican National Committee and the Florida Republican Party after suspicious registration forms submitted by SAC popped up in 10 Florida counties. Sproul's previous companies have been accused of destroying Democratic registration forms in prior elections.
The Virginia Republican Party and national party quickly disavowed Small. Pat Mullins, chair of the state party, said in a statement that he was "fired immediately" after the allegations were brought forward.
"The actions taken by this individual are a direct contradiction of both his training and explicit instructions given to him," Mullins said. "The Republican Party of Virginia will not tolerate any action by any person that could threaten the integrity of our electoral process."
Sean Spicer, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told NBC News that although the RNC and the Republican Party of Virginia had already stopped working with Strategic Allied Consulting, the state organization did continue to use some of the company's same workers, paying them through Pinpoint.
David Leibowitz, a spokesman for Nathan Sproul, says that because SAC was fired on Sept. 28, “Anything that happened after that did not happen on Strategic Allied’s watch.” As the LATimes reports today:
After Sproul was dumped, the registration operation that he assembled continued working under the supervision of party officials, Spicer said. He said the workers will continue to do get-out-the-vote work until the election.
Sproul's companies were also hired in Ohio, another key battleground state that has only recently fought off an effort to restrict voting. Like Florida, Ohio has a history of voting problems. Ohio voters suffered through long lines on Election Day in 2004. When former Ohio Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell ran state elections, he was involved in at least a dozen voting-related lawsuits and accused of restricting the number of polling booths in Democratic-leaning districts.
This year, Secretary of State Jon Husted took up the torch from his Republican predecessor, and worked to restrict early voting hours in his state. Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling stopped him in his tracks, but as many have pointed out, he immediately dictated that counties could only be open for a total of 16-hours on the three days he was legally required to open polls.
Polls are tightening in these three swing states where each vote will matter.