By Antonio Olivo, Laura Vozzella and Gregory S. Schneider,
Jonathan Ernst Reuters
The 17-year-old son of Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) tried to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s gubernatorial election twice despite being too young to vote, Fairfax County officials said in a statement released Friday.
The statement, which identified the teen as Youngkin’s 17-year-old son, emphasized that he did not end up voting and stated that he did not violate any state election laws. The Washington Post is not publishing the teen’s first name because he is a juvenile and has not been charged with a crime.
The teen walked into the voting precinct inside the Great Falls Library on Tuesday, presenting his driver’s license to election officials when asked for a proof of identity, according to Jennifer Chanty, the precinct captain there.
Chanty said in an interview with The Post that she realized who the teen was when she looked at his ID. Upon seeing his age, she said she informed him that he must be at least 18 to be eligible to vote in Virginia. Under Virginia’s election laws, the only time 17-year-olds can vote is in a primary election if they’ll be 18 by the time of the general election.
She said she offered to register him to vote for the next election, but the teen declined and walked out.
About 20 minutes later, the teen returned, insisting that he be allowed to vote, saying that a friend who was also 17 had been allowed to cast a ballot, Chanty said.
“I told him, ‘I don’t know what occurred with your friend, but you are not registered to vote today. You’re welcome to register, but you will not be voting today,’ ” Chanty, a Democrat, recalled saying. While Chanty had recalled the events as occurring Tuesday afternoon, a copy of her notes she took at the time showed she recorded the encounters as occurring in the morning.
Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for Youngkin, issued a statement Friday.
“It’s unfortunate that while Glenn attempts to unite the Commonwealth around his positive message of better schools, safer streets, a lower cost of living, and more jobs, his political opponents — mad that they suffered historic losses this year — are pitching opposition research on a 17-year old kid who honestly misunderstood Virginia election law and simply asked polling officials if he was eligible to vote; when informed he was not, he went to school,” O’Malley wrote.
Scott O. Konopasek, the head of Fairfax’s elections office, said it doesn’t appear that the teen violated any state election laws.
“The man did not vote. He made no false statements,” Konopasek said. “He did not disrupt voting. Based upon information available to me now, it appears that he committed no election offense as defined in Chapter 10 of the Elections Code.”
Under Virginia law, any election-law-related allegations are required to be forwarded to the local prosecutor’s office to determine whether charges should be filed.
“We don’t have a comment because we have yet to receive anything from the registrar,” said Ben Shnider, a spokesman for Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.
Youngkin had emphasized “election integrity” as the centerpiece of his campaign to win the GOP nomination. He announced the formation of an “Election Integrity Task Force” of citizens who would work “to ensure free and fair elections in Virginia.”
For the first four months of his campaign, Youngkin was coy about whether he believed President Biden’s election last year was legitimate, saying only that he acknowledged that Biden was actually the sitting president. After winning the GOP nomination in May, as the battle was on for moderate suburban voters, he acknowledged Biden’s legitimacy.
Youngkin also attended an election integrity rally at Liberty University over the summer, and allowed state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield) to serve as his surrogate at some events, even as she continued to repeat unfounded allegations of election fraud nationwide and to call for extra audits of Virginia’s 2020 results.
Youngkin has advocated for audits of election machines to ensure that the system is fair, though Virginia already automatically audits its election machines under state law. Near the end of the campaign, Youngkin affirmed that he generally has faith in Virginia’s election results and said he believed the results of the gubernatorial vote would be legitimate.
Chanty said the Youngkins are not registered to vote at the Hickory precinct, making the teen’s effort to cast a ballot there even more peculiar.
“It was just weird,” she said. “He was very insistent that he wanted to vote in this election and I said, ‘Well, you’re not old enough.’ ’’
But, Chanty said, she thought the teen’s efforts were simply misguided.
“Teenagers do stupid things,” Chanty said. “I’ll chalk it up to that. I’ll believe that first before anything else.”
Justin Jouvenal contributed to this report.