Johnson seeks investigation
Published 6:22 pm Friday, November 11, 2022
Cypress Borough City Council candidate Wallace Johnson has filed a grievance with the Virginia Department of Elections asking that certification of Tuesday’s election be delayed until his complaint can be formally investigated.
Johnson, who lost to incumbent Leroy Bennett by a two-to-one margin in the unofficial vote count, provided the newspaper with a copy of the grievance Friday. Vote totals show Bennett with 3,357 votes to Johnson’s 1,692, with only the absentee ballots yet included because it is for ballots received after election day that are postmarked by Nov. 8 and received by Nov. 14.
In the grievance filed Nov. 10, Johnson contends his opponent, Bennett, used his influence to “intimidate me, bully me, jeopardize my campaign and to intimidate potential voters.”
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Johnson said that he filed complaints with the registrar and the commissioner’s offices, but does not believe it was addressed.
Attempts to contact Bennett for comment by telephone and email Friday before press time were unsuccessful.
“Commissioner Isaac Baker (secretary of the Suffolk Electoral Board), who Mr. Bennett knows, threatened to shut down his campaign,” he said in the grievance. “Mr. Bennett engaged in the same activity as I did but the Registrars/Commissioner’s Office did not apply the same rules to Mr. Bennett.”
Johnson said he had received several complaints from voters saying his name was not on their ballots.
During early voting, a voter who resides in the Cypress Borough, contacted the registrar’s office and the electoral board “to indicate that he did not see my name listed on the ballot and nothing was done to investigate this complaint,” he said in the filing with VDE. “Additionally, other voters complained that my name was not listed on the ballot, again nothing was done to investigate these complaints.”
Johnson said in his grievance that Bennett used officials from the Commonwealth Attorney’s office and city workers to pass out literature, while driving vehicles marked with the city emblem.
“This is considered unethical,” Johnson said in the grievance.
Johnson then raised several concerns from election day, Nov. 8.
“Mr. Leroy Bennett consistently mocked my physical disability, and bullied me by consistently approaching me in my area from behind me and would then block me from providing literature to oncoming voters,” Johnson claims in the grievance. “He was asked repeatedly to stop following me and to cease standing over me and behind me, while consistently (invading) my personal space.”
Johnson said he believes he was deprived of his rights to provide his literature and was mocked and bullied at the polls.
“Moreover, claims of my name not appearing on the ballot during early voting was and has not been investigated,” the grievance states.
He goes on to say in his filing that he believes this raises questions as to the validity of the votes and the voting process.