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Voter Registration Group Sends 500,000 Incorrect Forms

Envelopes on a table
Richmond City voters took to social media after they received an absentee voter packet sent by a national group with incorrect return address sending their packet to Richmond County. (David Streever/VPM News) 

A national voter registration group apologized on Thursday for a mistake that led to half a million Virginia voters getting absentee ballot applications with incorrect information. 

The Center for Voter Information recently sent a packet that included a form to sign up for an absentee ballot and a return envelope.

But for roughly 500,000 Virginia voters, those envelopes listed the wrong registrar’s office.

That means voters in Richmond City who returned vote-by-mail applications would mistakenly send their information to registrars in Richmond County, around 50 miles away. 

The issue affected Fairfax City and Fairfax County, Franklin City and Franklin County, Richmond City and Richmond County, and Roanoke City and Roanoke County.

The center blamed a programming error for the mistake and  promised to work with registrars to redirect mail and pay any extra expenses. The organization was started by a Democratic strategist but bills itself as nonpartisan.

“Mistakes in our programming are very rare, but we take them seriously, and our methods overall are extraordinarily effective,” the group said in a statement.

In a statement, Virginia’s Department of Elections said it was not affiliated with the group and encouraged voters to register on its website.

Applications that arrive at the wrong office will be forwarded to their correct location, according to the department.

Editor's Note: This story was later updated to clarify that the forms sent out by the Center for Voter Information were absentee ballot applications. The previous phrasing portrayed the forms for voter registration.