Fairfax County election officials said Friday that they think that nearly 2,000 votes went uncounted after Tuesday’s election, a technical error that could affect the outcome of the still unresolved race for Virginia attorney general. The error stemmed from problems with a broken machine at the county’s Mason district voting center, officials said. The machine, known as an optical scanner, recorded 723 votes on election night before it broke down, elections officials said. Its memory card was then placed inside another, working machine, which recorded a total of 2,688 votes. But that tally was not included in the statement of election results delivered by the individual voting center to the county board of elections. Instead, officials received the statement that reported the 723 votes from the broken machine. The county’s board of elections believes that the larger total includes the original 723 votes, which could mean adding an extra 1,951 to the total outcome, said Seth T. Stark, chairman of the three-member electoral board.
But the board held off on officially registering the new amount until volunteers completed rechecking totals in other voting centers, which they anticipate will happen by late Friday afternoon.
“We think we’ve figured it out,” said Brian T. Schoeneman, another electoral board member. But “we want to check the totals in all the other machines.”
The extra votes from a heavily Democratic area of the county could affect the outcome of the race for attorney general, which appears headed for a recount. As of Friday afternoon, state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) leads state Sen. Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) by 1,272 votes – or .05 percent of the 2.2 million votes cast — according to the State Board of Elections’ Web site.