Nearly a week after Election Day, Democrats and Republicans were closely monitoring three races that could determine control of Virginia’s House of Delegates. The parties were especially focused on the House seat being vacated by retiring Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). Republican Robert Thomas is ahead of Joshua Cole by 86 votes. Democrats claim 55 absentee ballots mailed in that race by active-duty military voters went uncounted because they were left in the Stafford County registrar’s mailbox on Election Day — an account the registrar disputes. “It’s disgraceful that the registrar and two members of the Stafford County Electoral Board refuse to count military votes,” Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement.
Greg Riddlemoser, general registrar of Stafford County, said all ballots that arrived on time were counted. He said Democrats appeared to be referring to 55 absentee ballots that arrived Wednesday, missing the 7 p.m. Tuesday deadline. He also said the 55 ballots were mailed in by absentee voters of all stripes, not specifically by those in the military.
“I believe the apparent controversy is a result of misunderstanding what my office and what the Stafford County Electoral Board can lawfully do,” Riddlemoser said in a statement. “Under Virginia law . . . we can only count those absentee ballots that were returned to the registrar’s office by 7 p.m. on the day of the election — the same time the other polls close.”