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The chairman of Virginia's Republican Party on Monday sought a statewide probe of what he claimed was voter registration fraud across a battleground state in this year's presidential race.
Jeff Frederick decried a "widespread problem across the commonwealth" after the arrests in Hampton on election fraud charges of three people last week. He urged Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell to begin a statewide investigation.
The three were arrested on felony charges, and Frederick noted that the arrests triggered investigations in several other localities, including Richmond, Newport News and Norfolk.
But when pressed in an interview on his claim that registration fraud had been reported by local election registrars statewide, Frederick would not identify other affected jurisdictions, citing the advice of lawyers.
Nancy Rodrigues, executive secretary of the State Board of Elections, said the alleged fraud was based in Hampton, and listed eight other localities where victims could be involved.
With both parties battling this year over Virginia, a state that has not sided with a Democrat in a presidential election since 1964, voter registration drives are at unprecedented levels, Rodrigues and local registrars said.
Frederick rejected the suggestion that he exaggerated the scope of the alleged fraud to intimidate Democrats' registration efforts.
"We don't know who's doing all of this, but I'm sure that it's more than one group," Frederick said in a telephone news conference. "There's certainly - definitely, I think - a more widespread problem than just an isolated incident."
Much of the amped-up registration activity involves block-by-block efforts by the campaign of presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama to add tens of thousands of new young and minority voters to Virginia's rolls.
The three people arrested worked for the nonprofit Community Voters Project and to be paid, had to meet a daily quota of new registrations. Two were 18 and one was 22.