A Virginia Young Democrat working for a Democrat-aligned voter registration group got caught filing applications on behalf of dead people when he filed an application for a deceased World War II veteran who was known by a local clerk.
Andrew Spieles, a James Madison University student working for HarrisonburgVotes, confessed earlier this month that he submitted 19 applications for deceased individuals, according to a report in the local Daily News-Record.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that one of those individuals was Richard Allen Claybrook Sr., who died in 2014 at the age of 87. Claybrook was known by a clerk in the voting registration office as a former Fairfax elementary school principal.
The 19 applications were submitted through HarrisonburgVotes, which is run by Joe Fitzgerald, a prominent local Democrat. Fitzgerald is chairman of his congressional district's Democratic Committee.
Fitzgerald told reporters that his organization had no knowledge of Spieles's actions and fired him immediately after Spieles confessed.
"He's smart, and he understands the [political] process," Fitzgerald told the Daily News-Record of Spieles. "Who the hell knows what his motivations were?"
Although Spieles says he acted on his own, the FBI and Harrisonburg Police Department said they are examining all applications that HarrisonburgVotes has submitted since February.
William Howell, the Republican speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, told the Post that this is proof that voter fraud is a serious problem.
"Oftentimes we hear our Democratic colleagues suggest that voter fraud doesn’t exist in Virginia, or it’s a myth," said Howell. "This is proof that voter fraud not only exists but is ongoing and is a threat to the integrity of our elections."
Howell's Democratic counterpart in the House said that since nobody cast a vote, "there was no voter fraud."
"First of all, there was no voter fraud—they caught him," said House Minority Leader David Toscana. "Nobody cast a vote. There’s still no evidence of that going on in the state. But there is evidence every time you turn around that the Republicans are trying to make it more difficult for citizens to vote in elections."
The family of the deceased veteran said it is "disgusted."
"He was a retired Fairfax County elementary school principal and had fought in World War II," said his son, a well-known Harrisonburg judge. "So our family is very disgusted that they would pick his name because he was such a law-abiding citizen devoted to public service."
Virginia is expected to be a major battleground state in the upcoming 2016 elections.