On Tuesday, June 20, the U.S. District Attorney for Virginia announced that 21-year-old Andrew J. Spieles plead guilty to filing 18 illegitimate voter registration forms in Harrisonburg, Va. Speiles, who is a student at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, will face somewhere between 100 and 120 days in prison. While widespread voter fraud is largely unproven, localized cases have appeared on occasion. In a study, the Brennan Center at NYU noted, “There have been a handful of substantiated cases of individual ineligible voters attempting to defraud the election system. But by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare,” adding, “Often, voter fraud […] can be traced back to a typo.”
Speiles was caught when an employee at the Registrar’s Office in Virginia noticed a registration form under the name of the deceased father of a local judge. Eventually, law enforcement was contacted and uncovered multiple falsified forms. According to the press release, “some were in the names of deceased individuals while others bore incorrect middle names, birth dates, and social security numbers.”
In court last Tuesday, Spieles admitted that he forged the voter registration forms using a “walk sheet” given to him by the Virginia Democratic Party and that he fabricated social security numbers. He also claimed to have acted alone. The investigation was conducted by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeb Terrien.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the crime was punishable by up to $100,000 and a year in prison. The Times noted that no fraudulent votes were cast as a result of the registrations.