Judge dismisses lawsuit claiming Fairfax County broke absentee ballot rules

A judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit claiming that the Fairfax County Office of Elections had improperly accepted absentee ballot applications.

The suit, filed last week by the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, said that the office was approving mailed absentee-ballot applications of voters who hadn’t provided the last four digits of their Social Security number, as required by law. It included an affidavit by a woman who said she had seen that more than 300 such applications had been approved.

In its written response, the elections office pointed to Virginia law that says such a suit can only be brought by an “aggrieved voter,” a candidate or a candidate’s campaign or party. The Virginia Institute for Public Policy, being a nonprofit corporation, isn’t any of those, and on Friday, Judge Michael Devine agreed that they didn’t have standing to sue.

While the institute said it’s dedicated to fair elections, Devine said that didn’t put them into the category of a party with a direct interest: “Everybody who votes shares that interest.”

The defendants don’t claim all of the applications were completely filled out. In a joint stipulation entered in court Friday, both sides agreed Fairfax County General Registrar Scott Konopasek “has accepted and approved some applications for absentee and ‘vote by mail’ ballots that were submitted by mail (or other remote means) that did not include the last four digits of the applicants’ Social Security numbers.

J. Christian Adams, a lawyer representing the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, said he wasn’t sure whether they would appeal.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.

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Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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