Richmond voter says ‘I was robbed’ as registrar admits poll workers distributed wrong ballots

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Registrar’s office admits that poll workers handed out incorrect ballots on Tuesday.

On election day, voters from the Whitcomb Court polling place reached out to 8News with concerns that their ballots didn’t have any of the local races or constitutional amendments on it.

On Wednesday, Richmond voter Andre Graham wished he caught the mistake before it was too late.

“I turned it [the ballot] over and I said okay maybe this is all we’re gonna be voting on,” he told 8News. He said it wasn’t until after he got home and saw 8News’ reporting on the issue that he realized the problem.

“I felt like I was robbed of the opportunity to actually vote for who I wanted to vote for,” he said.

He’s not alone.

On election day, the same thing happened to Allison Davis but she did catch it.

“They literally admitted that it was the wrong ballot,” she told 8News.

About an hour later, she filled out a provisional ballot to finish voting. It’s something Graham says he wishes he could have done, especially considering some of the local races were close.

“A lot of people always complain and say my vote is not going to make a difference. That’s why a lot of people didn’t vote in 2016 but now they see their vote would have made a difference,” Graham said.

After several attempts to get in touch with Richmond election officials, the Richmond Registrar eventually acknowledged the problem on Wednesday and explained what occurred.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” James Nachman, the chair of the Richmond Electoral Board, admitted.

The ballots are called “federal ballots,” he said, and are only given to people in specific, rare circumstances.

“These are for people who are registered to vote here because this is their last place of residence prior to moving overseas, but who no longer maintain a residence in Virginia and are not overseas due to employment,” the city’s registrar, Kirk Showalter, said in an email Wednesday.

Showalter adds that poll workers were told to put those ballots away unless a voter needed one.

“Apparently, that did not happen,” she wrote.

“Elections are not perfect,” Nachman said. “You have human beings that are conducting the elections. Sometimes people make mistakes. There’s human error and this happens in every election.”

Showalter said she’d been told less than ten voters filled out the incorrect ballots. She added nothing could be done to correct those ballots since they’ve already been cast.

“Voters should be encouraged to check their ballot before inserting it in the voting machine to make sure that it is the correct ballots and that they don’t see a problem with it.  State regulations say that a ballot is cast when it is inserted into the voting machine.  Thus, we can correct any ballot problem up to that point, but cannot if the voter puts the ballot into the scanner.  In these cases, the voters did not alert the election officers of the possible problem,” Showalter said.

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