The State Board of Elections on Monday delayed certification of Virginia’s election results until later this week, giving additional time to the Richmond voter registrar’s office, which is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. State elections officials said they had local certification in hand from Virginia’s other 132 cities and counties and they expect to certify the state results later this week. Chris Piper, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, told the board that, “Overall, Virginia had an incredibly successful election” with no major issues reported on Election Day, which was Nov. 3. The meeting came as President Donald Trump continues to make unsubstantiated claims about widespread voter fraud in his loss to Joe Biden. Coming during the pandemic, Virginia’s election drew an unprecedented 2.8 million early voters, 1.8 million of them voting in person and 1 million through mailed ballots. Nearly 1.6 million people voted on Election Day. Virginia elections officials and legislators already are looking at potential changes to how registrars report results. Some Virginians were confused because Republicans dominated votes cast on Election Day, but Democrats pulled ahead in a number of contests late that night once localities reported votes cast in advance that skewed Democratic.
Virginia: Laws making it easier to vote made counting harder. | Kimberly Pierceall/The Virginian-Pilot
The late-night texts from out-of-state friends and relatives watching cable news on Tuesday night were curious: Virginia? Shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m. in the commonwealth and well into the night, President Donald Trump led former Vice President Joe Biden and, in Virginia’s Senate race, Republican challenger Daniel Gade appeared to hold an advantage over Sen. Mark Warner based on the numbers populating Virginia’s Department of Elections’ ever-updating database. The Trump and Gade leads held well into the late evening, after some Virginians likely already had gone to bed, with all but one precinct reporting in many of Virginia’s localities: the central absentee precinct. That precinct was key for so many ballot decisions and candidates because it held at least 2.8 million votes as of last Saturday, and likely more as ballots wound their way from post offices to registrar offices. One would think with all those votes and all that time they would have been among the first results to be revealed come 7:01 p.m. Tuesday after polls closed in Virginia. It was far from that easy, though. Instead, despite their sizable influence on numerous ballot races, those votes were among the last to be posted, some well after an 11 p.m. deadline set by the state elections commissioner for local registrars to send in results they had in hand on Election Day. Registrars will keep counting votes that were cast by Tuesday but came in later, through noon Nov. 6.