Powhatan elections office says ‘huge’ mailing mistake is confusing thousands: ‘Voters deserve better’

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POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — An apparent mailing mistake caused confusion for thousands of voters in Powhatan County.

Karen Alexander, Powhatan County Director of Elections and Voter Registration, said 7,000 people have been told to cast their ballots at the wrong place. That’s more than a quarter of the county’s voters.

“I wanted to scream and cry at the same time,” Alexander told 8News Wednesday.

A Powhatan couple living in the same house sent 8News photos of mail they received Tuesday. The letters told them to vote at two different buildings in two separate precincts. That couple is not alone.

“Of course, the phone has been ringing off the hook ever since that happened,” Alexander said.

In September, Alexander said the county hired a mailing company called BMS Direct to send roughly 7,000 voters mail, indicating their polling places were changing. Alexander said the move was to accommodate COVID-19 regulations better and keep voters safe.

“Unfortunately, there was a huge error,” Alexander said. “Unintentionally, I believe, the 7,000 letters were mailed to the wrong voters about the wrong precinct.”

She said BMS Direct is “taking full responsibility” and admitting the mistake was theirs.

“They said that they believe that the letters and the envelopes got out of order during the sorting process. Absolutely unfortunate and [I’m] disheartened that my voters were affected. My voters deserve better,” Alexander said.

Karen Alexander

8News asked the mailing company for an explanation. They replied to our request with “no comment” on the phone Wednesday.

Alexander says to the thousands of now-confused voters: “Our biggest priority is maintaining the integrity of elections and we want them to know that we are on their side and we are just as frustrated as they are.”

“We’re asking for patience and grace more than anything right now as we all go through this time together,” she added.

The Director of Elections and Voter Registration said that BMS Direct would be sending voters new letters containing correct polling places and correct district numbers within the next few days. If residents have any questions now, she urges them to call the elections office.


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