Friday, December 2, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Trial date set for ex-Virginia election official despite lack of clarity on charges

Charged with corruption, a onetime Virginia registrar says she doesn't know exactly what she's accused of doing -- and a representative for the state attorney general refuses to comment.

MANASSAS, Va. (CN) — More than a month after former Prince William County, Virginia, registrar Michele White was indicted on corruption charges, she contends she still does not know what she did to bring about the criminal case.

And her accusers aren't talking, either. After a brief hearing Friday, James Herring, an assistant attorney general, offered no comment while striding toward the courthouse exit.

 Charges against White include two felonies – corrupt conduct as an election official and making a false statement regarding an election – along with a misdemeanor, neglect of duty by an elections officer.

During a hearing before Prince William County Circuit Court Judge Carroll A. Weimer Jr., on Friday morning, White sat alone at a table across from prosecutors and explained that she needed another month to raise funds to hire an attorney. When spoken to, she responded in a low, soft voice. At one point, Weimer asked if she understood the points he was making. She said she did not.

Weimer has been down this road with White before, as she also appeared at a September hearing without counsel. The judge had agreed to give White another month to find a lawyer. On Friday, he again gave her another month, while delivering a short but pointed lecture about how White could be waiving her right to counsel if she continues to arrive at court without a lawyer.

The judge also explained that everyone has the right to a speedy trial. By delaying, he said White is essentially standing in her own way.  A lawyer, Weimer said, “is going to want three or four months to prepare” for trial.  He set her next appearance for Nov. 18 and her trial for April 3-6, 2023.  

A GoFundMe page asks for total contributions of $40,000 for White’s defense and asserts that she is the victim of politics. The page, signed “Michele,” says, “Since my indictment, individual acts of kindness, words and prayers have encouraged me to summon the strength to defend myself and defend the electoral process I have faithfully served here in Virginia.” The page notes that within days after her Sept. 6 indictment, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, a Republican, announced the creation of an Election Integrity Unit.  

With midterms less than three weeks away, Prince William County is quickly turning into an epicenter of election-fraud finger-pointing. Earlier this week, the Republican Party of Virginia, along with the Prince William County Republican Committee, filed suit against the county’s electoral board and Eric Olsen, the county's new registrar, taking issue with the assignment of election officers, or poll workers, for the coming election.

Poll workers appointed to represent the Republican Party "had previously voted in multiple primary elections to select candidates for the Democratic Party," the lawsuit charged. The lawsuit asks for an injunction preventing Prince William County from proceeding with the appointment of the election officers and allowing the Republican Party to nominate representatives.

In an interview, Olsen said he was attempting to ensure that both Republican and Democratic officials were involved, while balancing the need to get experienced people into the positions. He recently announced that he would resign after the election as the result of health issues.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...