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Where Virginia voters were affected by an IT glitch

People cast their ballots in voter booths on Election Day in 2020.
People cast their ballots on Election Day in 2020. (File photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

A problem related to the transfer of data from local DMV offices to local election offices caused more than 225,000 voter registration records to sit in limbo from May through October. The files included new registrations, changes of address and other changes made by voters.

The Virginia Department of Elections first noted the error to local election officials at the end of September, saying that 107,000 records were affected. Last month, the department announced it had identified an additional batch of around 149,000 records.

The records were eventually sent to local election offices, which updated their voter rolls ahead of Election Day, according to Andrea Gaines, a spokesperson for the department.

VPM News sent a public records request to the department asking to see a breakdown of where the records were sent. 

The data showed the state’s largest population centers in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and the Richmond area were most heavily impacted by the problems. The state’s most populous county, Fairfax County, also received the most records — 24,000 across the two data dumps.

The records also showed that the second round of data contained about 29,000 fewer records than the department initially announced. Gaines said department staff were able to identify some duplicate transactions from the first round of data.

In the end, voters across the commonwealth reported a relatively smooth election day. While some voters, including in Richmond, reported issues related to precinct poll books and had to cast provisional ballots, Commissioner of Elections Susan Beals said the day was a success.

“I would say this was a very smooth election," she told reporters Tuesday night. 

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.