Stafford County

Virginia Election Officials: Some Voters Got Wrong Ballots

Control of the state House may hinge on the outcome of the 28th district, where Republican Bob Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes

Virginia election officials say dozens of voters were wrongly assigned ballots in a district that could determine party control in the House of Delegates.

The State Board of Elections voted to temporarily put off certifying two House district elections Monday over concerns that voters in the 28th District -- in Stafford County -- were given ballots for the neighboring 88th district instead.

Control of the state House may hinge on the outcome of the 28th district, where Republican Bob Thomas leads Democrat Joshua Cole by 82 votes.

Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes said that his staff had identified 83 voters from the 28th District who were wrongly listed and that there could be more.

Cortes said Fredericksburg's former registrar may have made a "pretty significant error" in recent years and wrongly assigned voters in split precincts, which serve multiple districts. That registrar, Juanita Pitchford, recently died, complicating efforts to find out what happened. 

"There's a pretty significant question here about what took place that does impact the accuracy of that final result,'' Cortes said. 

Republican Party of Virginia Executive Director John Findlay accused election officials of using trumped up concerns to try and nullify a GOP victory. 


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"This is a thinly veiled attempt to overturn the results of the election," Findlay said. 

The Stafford County Electoral Board voted last week that 55 absentee ballots, some from members of the military, cannot be counted, per Virginia law. The ballots were found at a post office the morning after the election. The Virginia House Democratic Caucus filed a lawsuit demanding that those ballots be counted.

Democrats nearly wiped out Republicans' overwhelming majority on Election Day in the House, with a handful of races that will decide control of the body remaining too close to call. If the current vote totals hold, Republicans are set to control the House 51-49. 

Lawyers for the House Democratic Caucus sent a letter to the elections board Monday indicating that they were planning legal action over the wrongly assigned voters. 

James Alcorn, chairman of the elections board, said he wanted the courts to "have that conversation'' before certifying the election results. 

The board is set to meet again Wednesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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