RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An error caused an unknown number of eligible Virginians to be removed from voter rolls.
It happened because Virginia State Police sends a monthly list to the Virginia Department of Elections of people convicted of felonies who are no longer allowed to vote.
However, the elections department said it recently received a list that misclassified an unknown number of probation violations as felonies. Now, state officials said they’re working to correct the issue as quickly as possible.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said his office became “aware of the inconsistencies regarding the misclassification of probation violations as felonies, as had been the process in previous administrations,” and the governor asked state police to correct the process and ordered a review.
“The governor is committed to ensuring those that are eligible can vote and those affected will have their registration reinstated,” Porter added.
Rich Meagher, associate professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College and 8News’ political analyst, told 8News he thinks the issue seems like an honest mistake.
“It does seem like a fairly honest mistake,” Meagher said. “You know, a bad mistake, but an honest one. Not everyone on the list had actually lost their right to vote. So, the state Board of Elections and county and city registrars, have been taking away the names from their voter rolls of people who still are actually eligible to vote.”
Meagher doesn’t think this will impact too many voters because it only concerns people with convictions from VSP. But for those who get caught up in the mistake, he advises to head out to vote anyway and do so early so you can avoid any issues.
“Anybody who goes to the polls and is denied the right to vote is allowed to fill out a provisional ballot. In other words, you can at least fill that out and see if we can sort it out after the election,” Meagher said.
8News reached out to the Virginia Department of Elections for an interview. The department has not agreed to interview with us and is sticking by their original statement saying they have met with VSP to discuss the situation and correct the error.
The department’s full statement reads as follows:
As part of the list maintenance process, The Department of Elections (ELECT) received a monthly file from the Virginia State Police (VSP) containing felony convictions. ELECT was recently informed that the files received from VSP may contain probation violation convictions. ELECT immediately arranged a meeting with VSP to discuss concerns raised around the classification of felony convictions. ELECT has asked VSP to do analysis of their data and identify individuals who may have been canceled in error. Once that data is received, ELECT will send those names to registrars to have those voters registrations reinstated immediately. VSP has already corrected the batch file sent to ELECT on a monthly basis to ensure it no longer contains probation violation convictions.”Andrea Gaines, External Affairs Manager, Virginia Department of Elections
Virginia State Police has also confirmed their efforts to fix this problem as well. According to a spokesperson, the data in the “Central Criminal Records Exchange” report, “no longer contains felony probation violation charges to not inadvertently disqualify individuals whose rights were previously restored by the former Governor.”