When Jena Jones opened up her absentee ballot last week, there was a lot more in the envelope than she expected. In addition to actual ballot, she and her husband, David, noticed multiple pieces of advocacy from Democrats.
Jones, who resides in Fairfax County, will be out of town on Election Day and requested an absentee ballot from the Virginia Department of Elections. She was surprised to what else came with her ballot.
“I found a letter from the governor of Virginia asking me to please vote Democrat and ‘help keep Virginia blue’ this year. Then I got a letter from the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, giving me a step-by-step, yes-and-no what I should vote for as far as the meal tax and all those other things on the ballot,” Jena explained to WND and Radio America.
The latter document is known as a sample ballot and is often handed out on the sidewalks outside of polling places on Election Day. But there are strict rules that forbid those sample ballots from being handed out in the polling stations. (See images of some of the materials below this story.)
There was no material provided in the absentee package highlighting Republican candidates or positions on various proposals. Jones did not request the ballot through the Democratic Party. She has not voted in any recent Democratic Party primaries, and she is not a registered Democrat.
Although Jones is not a political junkie of any sort, the inclusion of fliers from Democrats but nothing from Republicans struck her as odd.
“I was a little confused as to why we didn’t get anything Republican at all, and I wasn’t sure why that was included in my ballot at all,” she said.
On the back of the letter from McAuliffe were lengthy, glowing biographies of Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine and her local congressman, Rep. Gerry Connolly.
Her husband, David, was serving as a witness to Jena’s vote. He was even more frustrated by all the pro-Democrat literature while no GOP materials were included.
“I also was a little befuddled because I figured that this would be a time that you wouldn’t want to encourage voters to go one way or the other,” David Jones said. “It’s just like when you walk into the precinct or the polls, they can’t be within a certain amount of feet from the voting booths, and I figure they shouldn’t be able to put a piece of paper in the envelope with your ballot.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview:
David was particularly surprised by the letter from Gov. McAuliffe, which was not some simple statement thanking absentee voters for taking part in the process. Instead, it was a full-page letter, imploring Virginia voters to choose Democrats for president and Congress. It also slams Republicans and Donald Trump on issues ranging from immigration to taxes.
“If it was just a letter saying, ‘Hey we appreciate you voting. Every vote counts,’ that would make sense and I would totally back that. But when there’s a specific flier that says, ‘Hillary Clinton for President’ and ‘Tim Kaine for Vice President,’ laying out their platform, to me it was just biased. It was one side.”
He is also worried about how others might look at the letters and sample ballot.
“I just think of the people who don’t have social media or television access, who are confined to a house, who just can’t get out, or are overseas and they’re relying on this information to cast their vote,” David said.
As a result, David took to Facebook on Oct. 20 with the photos included below.
“So, in what world is this OK? Jena will be out of town for the election so we are completing her absentee ballot tonight. We open the envelope and there are two flyers from the Democrats telling her how to vote. They can’t go inside the voting places but they can put check list in this envelope??? Ridiculous!” David’s Facebook post stated.
“It upset me, I guess, because there was nothing in there that represented the Republican Party. And I knew if we were getting it then someone else also was getting it,” he said.
His post has been shared dozens of times. He said even Democrat friends and longtime poll workers have expressed shock and disgust at the Democratic Party tactics. He has reached out to several different state officials looking for an explanation. Thus far, he has received no response.
Our calls and emails to the Virginia Department of Elections have also gone unanswered.