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Issue of election integrity spills into Virginia's 2021 elections

Posted at 5:11 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 18:24:44-04

FRANKLIN, Va. - Over the weekend Republican candidate for governor attended an event billed as an election integrity rally at Liberty University, which critics say is continuing to sow distrust in the electoral process as President Trump continues to falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Youngkin was unavailable to do an interview with News 3 on Monday, but a reporter asked the campaign about why he attended and what he spoke about. The two other Republican candidates for statewide office did not attend. The campaign responded that he just stopped by.

Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe blasted Youngkin for attending during a stop in Franklin on Monday afternoon.

"It's really disappointing. It's wrong for Virginia. It's wrong for this country," McAuliffe said in an interview.

A campaign spokesperson told News 3 in a statement, "It’s disappointing that career politician Terry McAuliffe believes safe and fair elections are 'false ideas.' As a homegrown Virginian, Glenn Youngkin has been clear from day one that his number one priority as governor will be building a rip-roaring economy in the Commonwealth so that it is the best place in America to live, work, and raise a family."

The issue continues to be a talking point among right-wing figures and politicians. Last week, a group of a few dozen rallied outside of the State Capitol in Richmond, calling for a forensic audit of Virginia's elections.

President Trump lost Virginia by 10 points in 2020. The State Department of Elections reported they did their own audit of the election results, which proved them to be correct.

Dr. Eric Claville, a political analyst and director of the Center for African American Public Policy at Norfolk State University, says the issue is not going to help Republicans, who are seeking to win their first statewide race in Virginia since 2009.

"I think members of the Republican party who are continuing to perpetuate what's being called the 'big lie' is a mistake in the long run as it relates to winning statewide race," said Claville.

McAuliffe says he has faith in the electoral process as he seeks a second term as governor.

"We've done 45-day early voting. We've done no excuse absentee balloting. This is a good thing in America when we make it easier for people to vote," he said.

Election Day is November 2 with early voting beginning in September.