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Virginia judge dismisses voter fraud felony charges

April 02, 2013|By Joseph Tanfani

A Virginia judge has dismissed eight felony counts against a Republican Party campaign worker who threw voter registration forms in a dumpster.

Colin Small, 23, still faces misdemeanor charges related to the incident in October, according to his lawyer, John Holloran of Harrisonburg, Va. But the felonies were thrown out during a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Holloran said in an interview.

“I think they charged it three days after the event and thought it was the tip of the iceberg and that there was this huge voter fraud conspiracy that was occurring,” Holloran said. But a grand jury investigation turned up no other evidence of fraud. The next hearing in the case is set for April 16.

The dismissal was first reported Tuesday by the Huffington Post.

Small was first hired as a field supervisor by Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm paid more than $3.5 million by the Republican National Committee to register voters and get out the vote in eight swing states. The company, owned by longtime GOP consultant Nathan Sproul, was fired by the RNC after charges of voter fraud surfaced in Florida, but the voter registration operations continued.

Last month, two Strategic Allied workers admitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that they forged registration forms. The investigation there is continuing.

On the last day of voter registration, Small was spotted throwing away the forms in an alley behind a restaurant. He says he threw them away because all of them were out of date and invalid. One turned out to be a convicted felon, and three were voters who were already registered. Holloran said all of them were Republicans.

The felony charges came under an election code provision that bars the use of Social Security numbers for fraud. But the judge decided “disposal did not equal disclosure,” Holloran said.

Holloran said Small was an Eagle Scout on his first job who made a dumb decision – not someone trying to suppress votes.

"He’s closing his office for the day and says, 'What do I do with these?'" he said. "'It would look bad if someone found them in the trash can outside Republican headquarters.'"

joseph.tanfani@latimes.com

Twitter: @JTanfani

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