A Pennsylvania man working for a contractor of the Republican Party was arrested in Virginia on charges of destroying voter registration forms.
The Rockingham County sheriff's office announced it arrested Colin Small, 23, of Phoenixville, a borough near Philadelphia, on Thursday after eight voter registration applications were found in a trash receptacle behind a business in the city of Harrisonburg, in the Shenandoah Valley.
Mr. Small was employed by Pinpoint, an independent private organization contracted by the Republican Party of Virginia to register voters, the sheriff's office said. He was fired immediately after the party learned of the allegations, state party Chairman Pat Mullins said in a statement.
The applications were found on Monday, the last day to register to vote in Virginia ahead of the November election, said Doug Geib, voter registrar for the county. The office processed the applications before the deadline, he said.
The sheriff's office said it believes the alleged crime was an isolated event.
"There is no indication that this activity was widespread in our jurisdiction," the office said in a statement. "It appears to be very limited in nature, but there is the possibility that additional charges may be filed in the future if it is deemed appropriate."
Mr. Small was charged with eight counts of disclosing voter registration applications, a felony, as well as four counts of destroying voter registration applications and one count of obstructing justice, both misdemeanors, according to the sheriff's office. Neither the sheriff's office nor the state party knew if Mr. Small has an attorney.
Mr. Mullins, the Virginia Republican chairman, said the party was alarmed by the allegations.
"The actions taken by this individual are a direct contradiction of both his training and explicit instructions given to him," Mr. Mullins said in a statement. "The Republican Party of Virginia will not tolerate any action by any person that could threaten the integrity of our electoral process."
Mr. Small was working for a contractor in a voter-registration effort, funded by the Republican National Committee, that began in August in key swing states, said Sean Spicer, spokesman for the RNC. Mr. Small has never worked directly for the RNC, Mr. Spicer said.
Virginia has an open-primary system, and voters do not register with a party affiliation.
"There's no evidence it was politically motivated in that sense," Mr. Geib, the voter registrar, said in a phone interview. "There's no way to look at the application and see any kind of party affiliation."
Each of the eight applications had been completed, three by people who were already registered to vote, he said.
From September until December 2011, Mr. Small worked as an unpaid intern in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, whose district stretches from Butler County up to Erie.
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