Conservative talk show host Rob Schilling is suing Albemarle County elections officials in a federal lawsuit. Schilling alleges that due to a dispute over masks, officials violated his right to vote and assaulted him when he voted in the June Democratic primary. Schilling’s lawsuit states that the mask mandate had already been mostly rescinded and that he had confirmed in advance that no mask was needed.
“I was stopped immediately at the door by a man called Leo Mallek who was the precinct chief, and I know Mr. Mallek. He is also the husband of a local Democratic supervisor here in Albemarle County. [Mallek] told me I couldn’t come in without a mask on, and I immediately took issue with him,” Schilling said.
“Albemarle County voters should never face intimidation, harassment, and physical assault by elections officials when attempting to cast a ballot,” Schilling said in a press release.
Schilling’s lawsuit alleges that Mallek recognized Schilling and tried to block him from voting for political reasons.
“Upon information and belief, defendants [Albemarle County Registrar Jake Washburne] and Mallek were aware, prior to Election Day, of Mr. Schilling’s history as a Republican elected official and as a critic of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors,” the lawsuit states, inferring, “the behavior at issue was motivated by an attempt to prevent Mr. Schilling from voting or to hinder him in the exercise of his franchise for an improper and/or retaliatory purpose.”
Schilling’s lawsuit names Washburne, Mallek, and two unknown persons as defendants. Mallek lowered his mask at one point during the exchange, and the two unknown people physically touched Schilling. After six minutes Schilling finally voted.
His lawsuit argues that had the poll workers not interfered, no one would have come into close contact with Schilling and he would have only been present two minutes, suggesting that the officials weren’t actually trying to protect against contagion.
“It should have been quite simple, and even when the mandate was in effect they said they were not going to prevent people from voting, they were just going to encourage people to wear masks,” Schilling’s lawyer Matthew Hardin told Fredericks.
“I think the lawsuit alleges that there may be motivations related to political reasons because of the individuals who were involved. But we definitely think it’s a serious case and we hope the federal court will make clear that you can’t impede people from voting based on these sort of trumped-up reasons,” Hardin said.
Fredericks asked Schilling why he wanted to vote in a Democratic primary.
“There’s two ways to vote in the Democratic primary, or the Republican primary if you’re a Democrat. One is to vote for the least worst, which is what I do. The other one is to vote for the disaster candidate,” Fredericks said. “Which of the two motivations propelled you to go in that day?”
Schilling didn’t answer directly.
“In my position I host Democrats and Republicans on my program. It’s an open door just as you do, I mean you have a very open program. And so I generally don’t endorse people, and I don’t even endorse political parties. I’m very critical of one party over the other. But when I go to vote it’s because it’s my right to vote and what I think is the right thing to do given the circumstance of that day,” Schilling said.
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John Fredericks is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Virginia Star.
He is also a Trump 2020 delegate and the chairman of the Trump Virginia Delegation.