Bob Good raises election integrity suspicions as he trails challenger

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) is raising suspicions about the integrity of the election systems in Virginia as he trails his primary challenger, an effort that echoes the “Stop the Steal” movement.

He has vowed to pursue a recount in the race, saying there should be a full accounting of “every legal vote.”

Good pointed to alleged “fires” in three precincts on the primary election day and has charged that one county registrar’s office improperly started a ballot process two hours early with his opponent’s representative present, but without notifying his team.

The Good campaign sent a legal letter about the ballot canvass process and Freedom of Information Act requests about the fire alarms on Friday.

The seeds of doubt about the election are the latest chapter in a contentious GOP civil war of a campaign that saw former President Trump, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and many House Republicans make endorsements for Good’s challenger, former Navy SEAL and state Sen. John McGuire, that were widely seen as revenge. Good, the chair of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus, had endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president and was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, throwing the House into chaos.

They are also an example of the election skepticism among conservatives that has been prevalent since Trump and his allies refused to concede that President Biden fairly won the 2020 election.

State and local election officials in Virginia said no fires occurred at polling places and signaled that fire alarms that sounded at those precincts had minimal to no impact on election operations.

And a local election official pushed back on the Good campaign’s concerns about a meeting that occurred prior to a time designated for election canvassing, saying it was a typical process. The McGuire campaign was present because it had called to check on the timing of the meeting, the official said, while Good’s campaign did not. It is evident, though, that the Good campaign believes proper procedure was not followed.

Good trailed McGuire by just more than 328 votes as of Friday evening, according to Decision Desk HQ. McGuire has declared victory in the race. Good has called to ensure a “fair and accurate count of every legal vote” and has vowed to head to a recount, which he can request if less than a percentage point separates the two candidates.

“We’re going to have a full recount. We’re going to have a full investigation,” Good said on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” show Thursday, saying that he has “a tremendous number of lawyers at our disposal.”

In a post on social platform X, Good said “fires” disrupted voting in three precincts on election day.

“We had 3 ‘fires’ on election day in 3 precincts, all requiring the precincts to be evacuated for 20 minutes. Albemarle County, Hanover County, and Lynchburg City. What is the probability?  Does anyone recall even 1 fire at a precinct on election day?” Good said. “AI estimates the probability being 0.0000000318% chance.”

Election officials and spokespeople from the state of Virginia and in those local jurisdictions stressed that no voters were turned away in the three voting locations that dealt with fire alarms on Election Day.

In Lynchburg, election officials said that a precinct on the campus of Liberty University had to evacuate for 15 minutes after a fire alarm went off and were told it sounded due to use of cleaning equipment. That location only served students who lived on campus, and with it being summer, only six votes were cast in the precinct.

An Albemarle County official said that according to a fire rescue report, a ceiling tile with water damage fell and pulled an alarm, leading election officials to evacuate for 20 minutes.

And in Hanover County, a local official said the fire department determined that steam from a water heater caused the alarm, with a state official adding that 15 voters waited and voted when the precinct was opened 30 minutes later.

The fire alarm issue is not the only concern Good is raising.

On Bannon’s show, Good alleged that Albemarle County did not properly notify his campaign of a ballot process that started “two hours early” and that while a representative for McGuire was present, his own campaign was not notified.

Bannon compared the situation to the 2020 “Stop the Steal” movement. “I’m worried about the canvassing, and people should consider this a test run” for November, he said. “The 2020 election was stolen, and we’re never having another election stolen.”

Lauren Eddy, the general registrar and director of elections for Albemarle County, told local radio station WINA and The Hill on Friday that Good was referring to a closed meeting regarding provisional ballots that started at noon, two hours before a public canvass meeting at 2 p.m. Eddy said it is not her office’s normal practice to notify campaigns directly about the provisional ballots meeting, and that a representative for the McGuire campaign had called her office to learn about the meeting time. While the ballots were processed, no votes were counted during that meeting, she said.

But the Good campaign evidently disagrees with the appropriateness of the meeting, with legal counsel for his campaign sending a letter Friday — obtained by The Hill — asking a litany of questions about the provisional ballots being “reviewed in the absence of the campaign’s observer and outside of the public notice time.”

A 2023 state department of elections handbook instructs to “provide public notice of the date and time of the provisional ballots meeting and canvass” on the Friday before the election.

As Good brings up complaints about the election process, the McGuire campaign is knocking him for doing so.

“Rather than accept his fate and the will of the people, Bob Good has chosen to undermine the integrity of Virginia voters,” Sean Brown, a spokesperson for the McGuire campaign, said in a statement. “His antics now are beneath the dignity of a soon to be former elected official. Bob should put Virginia and our country first, let this process play out, and then congratulate John McGuire on a free and fair election victory.”

McGuire, notably, attended the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Capitol on Jan. 6 but says he did not go inside the building.

Good’s campaign is defending its actions.

“We are committed to making sure every legal vote is counted in what remains a very close race that will likely be in recount territory,” Diana Shores, senior adviser and manager of the Good campaign, said in a statement. “We believe the public should be informed of incidents that occurred on both Election Day and in the canvassing process since, and we will continue to educate them on the process.”

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