Thousands of Virginia voters may be registered in the wrong state House district, raising the possibility of election disputes. In a statewide analysis, The Washington Post found addresses of about 6,000 registered voters that appear to lie outside a map of the assigned House district. If their turnout tracked the state average, more than 2,800 mistaken state House votes could have been cast in November. Six of the 100 delegate races were decided by fewer than 500 votes. One was decided by a coin flip. One controversy stemming from such errors is now playing out in the 28th House District near Fredericksburg. Democrats are seeking a new electionbecause 147 people voted in the wrong race, while Republican Bob Thomas won by just 73 votes. (They can’t just throw out the individual bad ballots since they can’t be identified). A state Department of Elections investigation there, launched following voter complaints, found the 147 affected voters got the wrong ballot because official voter registration records placed them in the wrong district.
Local election officials say such mistaken votes can happen because the state’s labor-intensive voter registration system allows incorrect details to be recorded. And errors, once entered, are difficult to detect.
Walter Latham, the York County registrar and president of the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia, says registrars lack resources. “With elections, until there’s a problem, people aren’t worried … and it’s not a budget priority.”