‘Simply doing the job’ – ex-Prince William County elections director seeks donations for legal defense

A former Culpeper County voter registrar is opening up about her recent indictment in Prince William County for alleged misconduct in the 2020 election, and defending herself.

Michele White, Prince William’s elections director from 2015 to 2021, said in a phone interview Friday with the Culpeper Star-Exponent that she is not sure what is going on, referencing “ambiguous” charges against her.

She called the indictment “very politically motivated.”







Michelle White

Michele White, Prince William voter registrar in the 2020 election, is seeking $40,000 in donations for her legal defense. Earlier, White was Culpeper’s voter registrar.


GOFUNDME.COM


On Sept. 7, a Prince William County grand jury handed down the two-count felony and one-count misdemeanor action against White, who spent 11 years in the Culpeper County voting office before moving on to the higher-paying position in Prince William.

White said she was shocked to be indicated.

“It’s been a real jolt to me, a real shock to the system,” she said. “I’ve needed time to get my life back into some sort of day-to-day order.”

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In a statement, White defended herself against the indictments.

“I showed up for the voting public election after election, in Prince William County, planning for a very robust early voting program and voter information program for the Prince William County voters. Presidential 2020 was my 5th Presidential election,” White stated. “I assisted many voters and candidates during my 17 years in elections in both Prince William and Culpeper Counties.”

White, 51, of Occoquan, has moved on since resigning her post last year. She is working in graphic design, where she started when she moved to Culpeper from Charlottesville in the early 2000s to raise a family.

She said Friday that she doesn’t have the money for legal fees to fight the charges of willful neglect of duty as an election officer, corrupt conduct as an election officer and giving a false statement on a required form.

The offense date for the first two charges is Aug. 1, 2020. The offense date for the false-statement charge is Nov. 3, 2020, Election Day when Donald Trump lost, a fact that the former president and many others still deny.

White has set up a gofundme.com page to cover her anticipated attorneys fees in the case—$20,000 for retainer and $20,000 for trial. She said Friday she expected the case would go to trial, and that she will fight the charges.

Her lack of ability to retain an attorney has delayed proceedings in Prince William Circuit Court. A status date is set for Oct. 21, by which time White hopes to have hired a lawyer, if she can raise the first $20,000.

“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,” she said in a statement on Gofundme. “I cannot fight this alone and need financial support to defend myself against this attack. Donations to the Go Fund Me in any amount will help and I thank you.”

The link to donate is gofundme.com/f/michele-white-legal-defense. About $1,400 had been given as of Saturday.

“If there are remaining funds after litigation, these funds will be kept intact for the defense of other Directors of Election,” White said in her statement. “Unfortunately, I believe there will be other similar cases to follow.”

In her interview, she said she is seeking as much help as possible to defend against charges of which she said she is still very unclear.

The former, two-county voter registrar provided a timeline of events as part of her statement, starting with her Sept. 7 indications:

“Sept. 9: Two days later, the VA Attorney General’s Office announced the Election Integrity Unit.

“Oct. 5: The Virginia Governor’s administration loses voter registrations

“Oct. 7: Current director of elections in Prince William County, VA, Eric Olsen, who replaced Michele White, announces his resignation—says he’s quitting amid a dispute with local GOP,” White said in her statement.

Two days after White’s indictment, the Republican Party of Virginia lauded Attorney General Jason Miyares for creating his Election Integrity Unit, and mentioned the former registrar in its Sept. 9 news releases.

“Just this week, we saw the need for stronger protections for our elections system when a former top Prince William County election official was indicted on fraud charges related to the 2020 election,” the Virginia GOP stated. “By prosecuting this individual, Attorney General Miyares is sending a strong message to election officials throughout the state to follow the law, because our election process must be held to a high standard.”

White said in her statement that this was not the first time Prince William County Republicans tried to use her tenure to suit their political agenda.

White referenced a 2016 news article, “Prince William Electoral Board Chair Under Investigation,” saying that issue was how the county Electoral Board chose to welcome her as Prince William’s elections director.

In closing, White thanked people for their consideration in defending election officials “who are simply doing the job faithfully for the voting public.”

The former election official said she is very happy to be back at her design career.

“I would really like this to go away,” White said of her Prince William case.

On Friday, the Culpeper Star-Exponent asked the Virginia attorney general‘s office for more details on the case, the specific nature of the charges against White, and if Miyares will help persecute White.

A spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

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