Virginia voter fraud?

Project Veritas “exposes” voter impersonation in Virginia and ignores registration fraud.

Jonathan Morris

Patrick Moran, the son of Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), recently resigned from his position as field director for his father’s campaign. This came after an organization called Project Veritas posted hidden camera footage of a conversation he had with a conservative political operative who posed as a potential volunteer. In the conversation, the operative indicates that his friend had obtained a list of names of registered voters who would not be voting. He then explained that he and his friend were planning to “vote for them.” Patrick Moran cautioned him and explained that it would be better to simply “rally them up and get them to the polls.” However, the hidden camera operative was not deterred and continued to question Moran about how his friend would accomplish this. The footage of answers to these were edited together to indicate that Moran was actively encouraging voter fraud. Project Veritas omitted his efforts to caution the operative and encourage him to put his time into volunteering using the existing — and legal — get-out-the-vote efforts.

After the video was released, Patrick Moran quickly resigned in order to minimize any potential damage to the campaign. Moran now faces a criminal investigation. From the entire video, it is clear that he is not encouraging voter fraud but rather gently dissuading the operative posing as a potential volunteer, whilst humoring the questions designed to obtain the footage Project Veritas desired. In a statement, Moran indicated that “in hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior, joking or not.” This reflects standard damage control practices, but in reality, everyone who approaches campaign staff with interest in the campaign is a potential volunteer.

Field campaigns cannot function without the aid of these volunteers. Generally, if campaigns condemned and ceased contact with anyone whose views differed from the official messaging of the campaign, it would be very difficult to recruit the volunteers that make field campaigns effective. Instead, each volunteer must feel valued and included. Chastising them for different views would hinder this necessary process. When potential volunteers discuss voter fraud, tolerating and including differences in views becomes a very slippery slope. Yes, voter fraud is illegal and in no way should campaigns tolerate or turn a blind eye but alienating someone who is clearly interested in helping instead of channeling his or her energy into productive — and legal — measures would be a disservice as well. In this case, while perhaps not the most ethical, Moran does not seem to engage in any illegal behavior or actually assist the operative in voter fraud. He merely explained what the law is and pointed out the obvious ways around it when prompted — which are likely more difficult than college students obtaining fake identifications.

However, this is not the only incident of alleged voter fraud to occur this election cycle. Collin Small, who was an employee of Pinpoint, a company contracted by the Republican Party of Virginia, was arrested for voter registration fraud. After collecting voter registration forms, he was found discarding completed forms, likely disenfranchising voters. Of the cases prosecuted, this type of voter fraud is much more common than voter impersonation and the voter ID laws and proposals do little to address it.