Live: Virginia races key in determining U.S. House control
This is a developing story.
A 'very smooth' election
In her final news briefing of the day on Tuesday, Commissioner of Elections Susan Beals said it was a “very smooth” election, with small issues related to poll books.
The city of Richmond, and at least three counties — Chesterfield, Suffolk and Nottoway — had issues regarding poll books, which are the list of voters for a precinct.
Both Suffolk and Nottoway saw litigation regarding the extension of voting hours. In Virginia, the only way to extend polling hours is through a court order.
Voting was extended for 20 minutes at a Suffolk County precinct due to technical issues.
In Nottoway County, a candidate asked for polling to be extended by one hour. After a judge granted that request, the state Board of Elections asked Attorney General Jason Miyares to intervene and rescind the order. The candidate, whom Beals did not identify, asked for an extension due to technical issues. Since the technical issues affected the whole county, the state board requested the attorney general’s intervention to keep things uniform, she said.
Some voters across Virginia cast provisional ballots in light of the poll book issues. Beals said she didn’t have numbers in terms of how many provisional ballots were used.
“We don't really have a prediction or know quite what to expect this year in terms of same-day registration,” Beals said. “Everybody who uses same-day registration will be using a provisional ballot. So, it's going to be hard for us to predict what that number would be.”
Localities must adjudicate provision ballots by Nov. 15.
Other remaining ballots include absentee ballots, which need to be postmarked by Election Day. Those would normally need to arrive by Friday, but since Friday is Veteran’s Day this year, they can arrive by Monday.
Sample ballot complaints in Mineral
A Mineral resident alleged in a citizen complaint that an illegal sample ballot with connections to the Louisa County town’s mayor was distributed before Election Day.
Christopher Guerre claimed Tuesday that the sample ballot was distributed “by and through … Pamela Harlowe - the current Mayor of the Town of Mineral and a Mayoral candidate on today’s ballot for the 2023-2026 term.” The complaint, directed to Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire and first obtained by independent journalist Tammy Purcell, states that Guerre is willing to testify under oath about the sample ballot.
In an image of the sample ballot attached to the complaint, the bubble for Harlowe’s name is filled in for mayor and only Rebecca T. “Becky” McGehee’s name was chosen among the five provided town council candidates for six available seats. Three write-in candidates were added: Thomas Runnett and David Lawson, current councilors who decided not to seek reelection, according to The Central Virginian, and Ryan Odom.
Bubbles were not filled in for the 5th House District race nor the Mineral District seat on the Louisa County School Board.
The complaint states the sample ballot appears to run afoul of state law, which bars “sample ballots not authorized by electoral boards and provided by electoral boards or general registrars to precincts.” Such sample ballots also can’t be printed on white paper, which the complaint highlights as a particular issue.
McGuire did not return a request for comment Tuesday night.
According to Purcell, Guerre also recently filed a petition alleging that Harlow failed to properly notify the public of meetings in August and October. According to the report, town attorneys said corrective action would be taken to ensure compliance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
Poll book issues in Central Virginia
Some voters in the city of Richmond and Chesterfield County faced issues with poll books Tuesday, according to Commissioner of Elections Susan Beals.
“In those localities that have had issues with their electronic poll books, they have switched over temporarily to their paper poll books.”
She emphasized poll books are different from voting machines, which count votes. They are a list of the voters registered to vote at a precinct. Some voters found they weren’t in electronic poll books when they came to vote.
Beals didn’t answer a reporter’s question on whether the pollbooks issue was related to long delays in processing thousands of voters’ registrations this year.
“This is a new generation of the poll book that they're using. And so there's a little bit of a learning curve for some of our workers at the precincts to get those operating correctly,” Beals said.
Richmond’s General Registrar Keith Balmer told VPM News he instructed all precincts to use the paper version as a precautionary measure.
Voter issues in Chesterfield County
Early morning voters at a Chesterfield County precinct experienced problems checking in.
An election official at the Beaufont voting precinct said one issue involved the thumb drives that hold polling books — which is where voter information, like addresses — is stored. As per procedure, election workers used backup paper polling books to verify voter information. Any voter not listed was verified by an election officer, who called the general registrar’s office for verification.
Chesterfield County General Registrar Missy Vera said some computers couldn’t recognize the thumb drives.
A source told VPM News that voting did not start at that precinct until 6:40 a.m. Voting was set to begin at 6 a.m.
Vera said there were also issues with election workers not being able to login to their laptops.
“The logins have tripped people up because this is different,” said Vera. “It's new software that we haven't used before. It's not a new vendor, but a new software that was certified by the state. This is new for our poll workers, since we didn't have an election in June.”
Vera said in prior elections, one password worked to log into all the poll books. But now, each poll book has its own password, which was then locking poll workers out.
Vera said all issues have been resolved.
Virginia House races
Virginians go to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots for their representative in the U.S. House. The Democratic and Republican parties both nominated candidates in each of the state's 11 congressional districts, and two — the 2nd and 7th Districts — are considered highly competitive and could be crucial to determining control of Congress.
Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger currently represents the 7th District of Virginia, which encompasses Fredericksburg and its surrounding areas. She has served in the office since 2019 and was a CIA officer before that. Yesli Vega, her Republican opponent, is an auxiliary deputy in Prince William County, where she is also on the board of supervisors.
Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria and Republican state Sen. Jennifer Kiggins are running in the 2nd District of Virginia. The district now includes Virginia Beach, Cape Charles and Chesapeake. Luria is an U.S. Navy veteran and has served the 2nd District for three years. Kiggins also served in the Navy for 10 years and has been in the Virginia Senate since 2020.
Both races are crucial as Democrats attempt to maintain their House majority.
VPM News will cover the election throughout the day and post updates about several congressional races as well as local bond initiatives in Chesterfield and Henrico counties.