Almost 1,400 Virginia voters have recently received duplicate absentee ballots in the mail because of printing errors.
So far, voters in three jurisdictions – Fairfax and Henrico counties as well as the City of Richmond – have reportedly been sent duplicates ballots as the November 3rd election quickly approaches.
Officials from Fairfax County told The Washington Post that extra ballots were mailed out by election workers to nearly 1,000 voters because of an issue with absentee ballot address labels.
Specifically, a printer used by the county did not print individual labels forcing election workers to reproduce 70 labels every time an error happened, some were reapplied to new ballots which lead to duplicates, Gary Scott, Fairfax County general registrar, told The Post.
During a Senate session last Thursday, Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) brought the problem to the attention of the legislative body, saying he learned of 300 voters in Richmond that had been affected and asked his colleagues to be vigilant in watching the conduct of the election process and to report any problems that may come to light.
“The rush to move to vote-by-mail has put many registrars in an untenable position,” Obenshain said in a statement sent to The Virginia Star. “They aren’t staffed for it and when the General Assembly made sweeping changes to the voting law last session, they did not provide the additional resources necessary to make sure that they were implemented properly. Unfortunately, this is just one resulting problem.”
After the news broke last Friday, the Republican Party of Virginia announced in a news release that 100 voters in Henrico County, as well as the 300 in Richmond, had been sent double ballots.
Rich Anderson, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, believes the mistakes are a direct result of state Democratic lawmakers expanding absentee voting as a deterrent to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
“We knew the Democrats many last-minute changes to our election law would make our elections less secure, but no one could imagine voters receiving two ballots,” Anderson said in the release.
The City of Richmond general registrar did not respond to multiple requests for comments from The Star before press time.
One Richmond resident who received duplicate ballots through the mail said he was shocked.
“You hear about voter fraud all the time and you also hear that it is not a real issue, but when you get something like this that happens you start to get concerned [and] worried about what could happen if this was to fall into the wrong hands, if someone wasn’t being transparent,” The Richmond resident, who asked for anonymity, said in an interview with The Star.
The state does have safeguards in place to prevent one person casting multiple ballots.
Every ballot casted by Virginians is logged into a state verification system, so if a person tries to vote multiple times the system would reject the extra ballot and would not count it, election officials told The Post.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project’s early voting dashboard, as of Sunday, 85,765 absentee ballots have been returned to registrars while 870,780 absentee ballots have not.
The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot in Virginia is October 23rd, 11 days before the election.
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