Over the course of a five-and-a-half hour hearing in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, Republican legislators lamented problems with the state’s electronic voter registration system. Days later, right at the deadline to register to vote, that system crashed. Funding to upgrade the system was cut Thursday in the Senate by some of the same legislators who keyed in on the issue last fall. State Sen. Jill Vogel co-chaired that October meeting, and she also heads the budget subcommittee that removed nearly $4 million in new funding Gov. Terry McAuliffe had proposed for the Virginia Department of Elections. She said on the Senate floor Thursday that some of that money will likely come back into the budget as the House and Senate negotiate a final spending bill.
But she complained of management issues at the Virginia Department of Elections and said a statewide election year may not be the best time to overhaul VERIS, the voter registration system that crashed ahead of the presidential elections, eventually leading a federal judge to extend the state’s registration deadline.
McAuliffe proposed $1 million for VERIS enhancements, along with other money at the department largely meant to backfill a coming loss of federal funds.
Vogel, R-Winchester, also said Thursday that the need to find money for state employee raises, including increases that approach $7,000 a year for state police, required cuts elsewhere in the budget. But she repeatedly referenced “a management issue in terms of execution and timing” at the Department of Elections.