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Registrar Says Duplicate Absentee Ballots Problem Resolved

Registrar Kirk Showalter
General Registrar Kirk Showalter demonstrates a mail-in ballot. (Photo: Jakob Cordes/VPM News)

*Patrick Larsen reported this story

Duplicate ballots were sent out to about 400 voters in Richmond and Henrico in September.

Richmond registrar Kirk Showalter said her office got their ballots late, only “four days before they were supposed to go out,” due to arguments over Kanye West’s candidacy.

And, that’s on top of a historic number of absentee ballot requests in the city.

“In presidential election ‘16, we had total of less than 9,000 absentee both in person and through the mail. The first mailing this time around was over 13,000,” Showalter said.

She said her office could end up mailing out almost ten times as many absentee ballots this year compared to 2016. They hired 27 additional workers this year to help out with absentee ballots and early, in-person voting.

That type of pressure has led to mistakes at her office, and others around the state including Henrico and Fairfax, with additional mailing labels being printed for some voters. But Showalter says she’s not worried about duplicates.

“To my knowledge, all the ones that are getting two ballots are contacting us, and they are returning the second, as we requested, unopened,” she said.

Unique barcodes tied to each voter’s registration ensure that no one has their vote counted twice.

Still, Showalter recognizes that the increase in mail-in ballots makes some voters uncomfortable. But she says Virginians have ways to ease their anxieties.

Voters can look online at Ballot Scout Virginia to track their ballots through the mail on the way to their residence and back to their registrar’s office.

Virginians can check their voter registration details on the Department of Elections website - where they can also find confirmation that their ballot was accepted.

Furthermore, ballots are marked as complete or incomplete as they come in. Voters with faulty ballots are contacted whenever possible to fix them.

“And that’s another reason you should apply for your ballot now,” Showalter said.

Ballot totals in Virginia can be released no sooner than Election Day.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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