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Joe Morrissey charged with Election Day violations

Posted at 11:56 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 18:18:00-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Democratic State Senator Joe Morrissey has been charged with three class one misdemeanors for his alleged actions at a polling location on Election Day in 2019.

Morrissey is accused by Virginia State Police of violating Virginia code related to polling locations when he ran for office and won the race for his current seat.

Video and pictures taken by someone at the Powhatan Community Center showed Morrissey interacting with voters and election officials inside the polling place on Nov. 5, 2019.

According to that person and the criminal complaint related to this case, Morrissey was inside handing out donuts, thanking people for their support and inviting people to his watch party.

Morrissey is also accused of taking photos with staff for about 15 minutes, which kept the complainant and others from being able to cast a ballot. He is also accused of then standing outside the polling place -- within that 40-foot zone where campaigning is prohibited -- and greeting voters and telling them he was running.

Police said an investigation was approved by Virginia’s Attorney General and launched in December 2019.

Morrissey was charged with three class one misdemeanors under a section of Virginia Code that things like loitering within 40 feet of an entrance and hindering a voter from entering or leaving.

Police said Morrissey was served on Monday and he had his arraignment Thursday.

The case is being handled by a special prosecutor from the New Kent Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, who said he could not comment on pending litigation.

Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin said Friday that she asked the court to refer the case to a special prosecutor to "avoid even the appearance of impropriety" since they have known each other for nearly 30 years and Morrissey hired her as a prosecutor when he was Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Morrissey said Friday morning that he denied the allegations and planned to fight them in court.

The lawmaker also questioned the timing of the charges.

The next court date for this case has not been scheduled.

Depend on WTVR.com and CBS 6 News for complete coverage of this important local story.