Local registrars will retain autonomy to order the number of ballots they choose for each election after legislators cut language from twin bills arising from the Lynchburg special election ballot shortage. The pair proposed by Sen. Steve Newman, R-Bedford County, and Del. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg, are two of three pieces of legislation arising from the Jan. 10 special election in which several Hill City precincts ran out of pre-printed ballots in the morning. The resulting confusion led to angry and confused voters, some of whom left without casting a ballot.
SB 1552 and HB 2415 would only order registrars to use historical data, including voter turnout, to make that decision, information many registrars have said they generally consider.
Existing law requires local registrars to inform the Department of Elections about the number of ballots they plan to order for a given election. The Department of Elections is allowed to offer counsel. The language as originally written would have required registrars to make that advice an order. Garrett amended his legislation before it passed through a Privileges and Election subcommittee Thursday to match Newman’s on the Senate side, which passed the Privileges and Elections Committee on Tuesday.