Leaders of Virginia’s Department of Elections, House Speaker Bill Howell and Fredericksburg’s Electoral Board knew there were problems with voters assigned to the wrong House districts in the Fredericksburg area since at least early 2015, documents and interviews show. That is more than two years before the Nov. 7 election to replace Howell that is now mired in a federal lawsuit that could help decide which party controls the Virginia House of Delegates. “There were some issues raised in 2015 that we believed to have been resolved, and apparently, there were additional issues that were … still impacting voters,” Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortes said in an interview.
The initial problems emerged when Howell faced a 2015 GOP primary challenge from Susan Stimpson but had not been reported until now. Howell’s campaign alerted Fredericksburg elections officials and the state’s Department of Elections to issues on a number of street segments in the city during that primary campaign. The campaign was apparently satisfied that the particular problems they had identified with voters wrongly assigned outside the 28th District had been fixed just weeks before the primary.
No issues were raised then about the misassigned voters in the Stafford County portion of the district, and there wasn’t a larger investigation launched into other voters who may have been casting ballots in the wrong races.