ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - Virginia Democrats on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Gov. Bob McDonnell and the state elections board, claiming tens of thousands of voters are at risk of being wrongly purged from voter rolls ahead of the state's gubernatorial election.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, was not listed on the court's electronic docket but a copy was obtained by The Associated Press.
The Democratic Party of Virginia accuses election officials, including Cuccinelli in his role as Attorney General, of pressing forward with a plan to potentially purge 57,000 registered voters because an interstate database shows them registered in multiple states. But Democrats say the list is filled with errors and thousands could be wrongly disenfranchised.
The lawsuit claims that the interstate database has been created by Republicans who purport to be preventing fraud, but in reality are seeking to suppress vote totals in communities that traditionally vote Democratic.
Cuccinelli is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor in a race that is drawing national attention.
The lawsuit says state officials have told county registrars to use their "best judgment" in whether to purge voters. That approach, according to the lawsuit, will lead to voters being treated differently in different jurisdictions, violating constitutional guarantees of equal protection. The suit seeks an injunction barring the voter purges.
According to the lawsuit, some counties, including Loudoun and Chesterfield, have already decided against purging voters. Others, like Fairfax and Prince William, are in the midst of purging names.
In Virginia, state and local election boards are controlled by Republican nominees when the sitting governor is a Republican, as is the case with McDonnell.
"At best, Defendants' conduct reflects inadvertent sloppiness in attempting to ensure that unqualified voters do not vote in Virginia's election. At worst, the conduct is driven by partisan politics. Neither explanation justifies the conduct," the lawsuit states.
Chris LaCivita, a chief adviser to the Cuccinelli campagn, called the lawsuit a "politically motivated stunt."
"Under Virginia law no one is denied the right to vote," he said. "Apparently Democrats have a problem with local registrars doing their jobs."