RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's Republican attorney general is expanding a criminal probe of alleged efforts to destroy voter registration applications statewide.
Ken Cuccinelli's office entered the politically charged investigation in the battleground state Wednesday when the Republican-dominated State Board of Elections voted unanimously to authorize the inquiry.
A Pennsylvania man working for a company Republicans hired to conduct voter registration drives faces criminal charges in Rockingham County on allegations that he threw eight completed voter registration forms into the trash. Colin Small of Phoenixville, Pa., faces 13 counts of disclosure of voter registration information, destruction of voter applications, and obstruction of justice.
Neither of the two Republicans on the state elections board hesitated in voting to expand the inquiry after the lone Democratic board member, Kimberly Bowers, questioned whether the incident was an isolated one or part of a broader pattern of voter disenfranchisement.
Polls show President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in a close battle for Virginia's 13 electoral votes and a close potentially decisive U.S. Senate at stake.
Virginia's three Democratic U.S. House members had earlier asked President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder, to launch a federal inquiry into Pinpoint, Small's employer, and another company, Strategic Allied Consulting. The Justice Department is reviewing the request to Holder from Reps. Jim Moran, Bobby Scott and Gerry Connolly.
In late September, the Republican National Committee fired the other company, Strategic Allied Consulting, after suspect forms it collected in Florida were turned over to local prosecutors.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)