Virginia NAACP Demands Attorney General Disclose Records Concerning “Election Integrity Unit”

The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP is demanding that the Office of Attorney General Jason Miyares comply with Virginia law and produce public records concerning its recently formed “Election Integrity Unit.” Together with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Office of the General Counsel of the NAACP, and the law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP, the Virginia NAACP sent a letter to the Office of the Attorney General on October 14, 2022, formally requesting all public records related to the establishment of the Unit, its organization and staffing, activities, and financial expenditures, as required under state law. The letter also requests information regarding the number of instances voter fraud or “election cheating” in Virginia in recent years, cited by the Attorney General as the supposed justification for the creation of the Unit.

The Office of the Attorney General responded to the letter, but instead of producing the requested records claimed it would cost almost $20,000 for them to comply with the requests—an exorbitant fee the Virginia NAACP nevertheless agreed to pay.

“The Virginia NAACP will not allow the Attorney General’s Office to escape public scrutiny, and we will not be bullied,” said Robert Barnette, president of the Virginia NAACP. “We will hold the Attorney General accountable and shine a light on this so-called ‘Election Integrity Unit’ in order to ensure that it does not interfere with our elections or our right to vote.”

By law, the Office of the Attorney General now has until Election Day, November 8, 2022, to provide the requested records.

“The Attorney General’s Office cannot operate in secrecy,” said Ryan Snow, counsel with the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers’ Committee. “All Virginians must have confidence they can exercise their freedom to vote without intimidation or interference by a state office whose very existence is based on lies and conspiracy theories.”

Attorney General Miyares announced the formation of the “Election Integrity Unit” on September 9, 2022, claiming in a press release that it will “help restore confidence in our democratic process” by “work[ing] with law enforcement to ensure legality and purity in elections.” Since then, it has provided no public information about its activities, except an October 19, 2022, op-ed in which Miyares admitted there is “no widespread voter fraud in Virginia or elsewhere in the country,” and asserted that the Unit will “work to protect voting rights and crack down on voter intimidation.”

“There is simply no legitimate justification for the creation of this Unit, except to pander to the election deniers and conspiracy theorists whose own rhetoric and actions are the real force undermining public confidence in our elections,” added President Barnette. “For the Attorney General to invoke the concept of ‘purity’ in elections in announcing this Unit is particularly alarming to Black Virginians, who have for generations endured racial discrimination, intimidation, and violence intended to prevent them from participating equally in our democracy.”

“Virginians have a right to know what this Unit is doing, and the Attorney General should have nothing to hide,” added Snow.

The Virginia NAACP will hold a press conference tomorrow, Tuesday, November 1, 2022, at 10:00 AM at The Bell Tower, Capitol Square 1000 Bank St, Richmond, VA 23219.

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About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visit https://lawyerscommittee.org.

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ABOUT THE VIRGINIA NAACP
Founded in 1935, the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (Virginia NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth, overseeing over 100 NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters. The Virginia NAACP is focused on being the preeminent voice of Black Virginians and advocating for policies and programs to benefit Blacks and people of color. You can read more about the Virginia NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting NAACPVA.org.

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