RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Since the unofficial election results were reported Tuesday night for the hotly debated Richmond casino referendum, 400 more ‘YES’ casino votes have been reported, while the ‘NO’ votes remained unchanged.
8News discovered the change online Friday while waiting for new unofficial results after the deadline for mailed absentee ballots to arrive. ‘YES’ votes for the Urban ONE casino project stood at 37,999 Friday afternoon, while 37,599 had been reported Tuesday night.
This change does not impact the unofficial outcome of the election, as there are still 39,824 counted ‘NO’ votes. Urban ONE accepted their loss on Wednesday.
City of Richmond Elections Registrar Keith Balmer explained the data change, saying one of his staff members at precinct 903 in the south side incorrectly entered the vote total on Tuesday, and it was subsequently updated.
This does not match data listed by the Virginia Department of Elections online. The only precinct to have reported updated results after Tuesday was precinct 910, which made updates on Wednesday — the same day the error was discovered.
Balmer called the incident a mistype and “human error,” noting that he did not know who made the entry, nor was he attempting to find out. Balmer said the incorrect vote total was discovered sometime Wednesday.
When further asked about the vote total change, Balmer said the occasional mistype “happens all the time,” and emphasized election night results are always unofficial.
Last November the official result in a city council race showed over 1,000 less votes for candidate Tavarris Spinks than the unofficial result did, prompting him to seek answers from then-registrar Kirk Showalter. A data entry change was found in the central absentee vote calculation election night.
While data entry errors could hypothetically make or break the perceived result of a race, Balmer’s statement about the frequency of similar data entry errors is backed by data from the Virginia Department of Elections.
There are thousands of changes to reported results in recent election cycles. Those changes are reported by the department of elections and broken down based on locality, time of entry and partial names of people who made the change.
After the Nov. 2, 2021 election there were many reported ‘data entry error’ messages reported to the state.
The aforementioned results are expected to change Friday night as the final outstanding mailed absentee ballots will be counted and included in the total. Friday is the deadline for these ballots to be delivered to the registrar’s office.
All election results are deemed unofficial until the state board of elections certifies them on November 15.