RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – The Richmond Electoral Board chair, James Nachman, said Tuesday that the Hickory Hill Community Center and city hall will most likely not be able to be opened for early voting until October 17 like originally announced by registrar Keith Balmer.
This comes as residents and several local leaders expressed concern that two of the three satellite voting locations were closed to Richmonders who want to vote early.
Richmond Registrar Keith Balmer told 8News on Monday that he ran an advertisement in the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper on Sunday, Sept. 12, to notify the public that city hall and Hickory Hill wouldn’t open until Oct. 17. The legal notice was published in the newspaper 51 days before the general election.
Nachman learned Monday of a state statute, Virginia Code Section 24.2-701.2E, that says:
“Not later than 55 days prior to any election, the general registrar shall post notice of all voter satellite office locations in the locality and the dates and hours of operation of each location in the office of the general registrar and on the official website for the county or city. Such notice shall remain in the office of the general registrar and on the official website for the county or city for the duration of the period during which absentee voting in person is available. If the county or city does not have an official website, such notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or city at least once prior to the election but not later than 55 days prior to such election.”
8News reviewed the advertisement found on page A4 of the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper. Regarding Hickory Hill and city hall, the ad said both locations will be open for early voting starting Oct. 17, but it did not outright mention that both locations would be closed for a month of early voting starting on Sept. 17.
Nachman said the city attorney is advising the electoral board to not add additional dates or times to the public notice because it would be illegal, violating the statute, since Balmer has already released the information.
Because of this, he said Hickory Hill and city hall will still, most likely, not be able to be opened to voters until Oct. 17, leaving two weeks for those voters to be able to vote early.
Nachman said he is disappointed. He said the final decision will be made by the board on Thursday in a meeting, but that he does not expect the board to do something illegal and open city hall and Hickory Hill.
He said as much as he would love to open the voting locations, the board’s ‘hands are tied because of the statute.’