State elections officials expressed concern Monday that some of the voting equipment used in November balloting is outdated and does not meet requirements under state law. Don Palmer, secretary of the State Board of Elections, said at a board meeting that some of the voting machines are not able to flag overvotes or undervotes, which would allow those ballots to be inspected manually. Republican Mark D. Obenshain hopes that the proper count of such ballots in the upcoming recount will sway the election result of the attorney general’s race, in which Democrat Mark R. Herring was certified the winner by 165 votes. An undervote would be one in which a selection would be made in at least one race, but not others. Overvotes include ballots in which two candidates were originally marked for a race, but one was crossed out. “The code requires in a recount situation that undervotes, overvotes and write-ins be rejected so they can be analyzed personally by the recount teams and observers of each party,” Palmer said. If there is a dispute over a particular ballot — meaning if the voter’s intention isn’t immediately clear — it would go to the recount court in Richmond, a panel of three judges headed by Richmond Circuit Court Judge Beverly W. Snukals.
Palmer said that retabulating the paper ballots will be the primary logistical issue during the recount. “(The localities) need to make sure that those ballots are retrieved from the court pursuant to the security procedures, (transferred) to the recount site and retabulated on the optical scan equipment,” he said.
“If you can’t retabulate on the equipment and reject those ballots, you have to hand-count it or you have to find some other means of retabulating.”
Palmer said the state has contacted every vendor that provides voting equipment to the 2,558 precincts across Virginia, asking a series of questions.
“There was some concern, but there may be a solution to this, where a central scanner can retabulate these paper ballots and provide the results,” he said.