After raised voices and pounding on the table, the Hopewell Electoral Board voted 2-1 on Tuesday to stand by its newly appointed registrar’s decision to create ballots that feature some candidates’ names in capital letters. In a heated debate in the back of the Hopewell registrar’s office, the board’s two Democrats stood by Registrar Yolanda Stokes after she submitted a draft ballot for November’s election that showed three Hopewell City Council candidates’ names entirely in uppercase. Stokes is overseeing her first general election after being appointed registrar in May. She previously served on Hopewell’s public housing board, but the City Council voted to remove her in 2013 after she clashed with other city officials who accused her of overstepping her role.
The unusual ballot controversy has raised eyebrows in Hopewell and at the Virginia Department of Elections, but it’s not yet clear how it will be resolved.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the lone Republican on the electoral board unsuccessfully urged his colleagues to correct what he saw as a blatantly unfair ballot. Any candidate put at a disadvantage over how the names are set to appear, he said, should file a lawsuit.
“I think it’s utterly insane if you two vote to let this stand,” said board Chairman Patrick Washington. “And it shows that this electoral board, mainly you two, are just following your own standards instead of the standard of right and wrong.”