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Electronic 'poll book' problems reported in Chesterfield, Richmond

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State election officials on Tuesday reported issues with voter information at polling locations in Richmond, Suffolk and Chesterfield and Nottoway counties.

State Elections Commissioner Susan Beals said the problems were with the electronic “poll books” that list voter information on a laptop. Before casting a ballot, voters check in with an election official who consults the information for confirmation.

Beals said election officials in those areas switched to paper poll books. No voters were turned away, she said.

It was not immediately known how many people were impacted or the nature of the discrepancy. Voters who had issues could cast a provisional ballot, and the vote will count, she said.

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Poll worker Deborah Froelich provided “I voted” stickers to Bill Howard and his daughter Annabel on Tuesday at the Brighton Green Community Association voting precinct in northern Chesterfield County.

“It might just be moving a little slower than normal,” she said.

In Richmond, Nancy Nystrom Stansbery got the unsettling news that she wasn’t in the poll book at precinct 104 when she came to vote, with her most recently mailed voter card and ID with her new address.

She had moved from another neighborhood in the city and updated her registration ahead of the deadline in order to vote in this year’s election.

“When I showed my card to the poll workers, they said I wasn’t in the poll book,” she said. “They said I should vote at my old precinct.” She said she worried she wouldn’t be listed in that poll book either, so one poll worker called the registrar’s City Hall office.

“She said I wasn’t in the system,” Stansbery said. “I don’t understand how I could be in the system long enough to get a new card in the mail and then not be there.”

She did get to vote, but only after re-registering and casting a provisional ballot.“While I was there, two other women came up with the same issue,” she said. “They’d moved recently too.”

She said the election officers did not tell her anything about following up to see if her vote was counted. The state Department of Elections says voters who cast provisional ballots are supposed to given a notice with the date, time and place where the local electoral board will decide whether or not to count the ballot. Voters are entitled, but not required, to attend this meeting in order for their ballot to be counted. If your registration application is approved and there are no other issues, your ballot will be counted. The registrar is supposed to give people a written notice it their ballots are not counted.

“We have heard several instances of this,” said Keith Balmer.

“Those voters should have been checked into the paper poll book that was sent to that precinct. Any voter who casts a provisional ballot for this reason will have their ballot counted by the electoral board,” he said.

He said voters who cast provisional ballots because they did not show election officers an ID, as state law requires, will need to show up at the electoral board with that ID for their votes to be counted. Voters who cast provisional ballots for any other reason do not need to show up, he said. As for the cause of the issue, Balmer said the state Department of Elections is aware of the problem and is researching it.

In Chesterfield County, there also was confusion over six new polling places added since the 2020 election.

Some voters came to the precinct at North Courthouse Road Library, only to find that their polling site was several miles away. In the span of a half hour, at least four voters made that mistake.

Others, such as a polling site at Reams Road Elementary School, had been closed in prior years due to construction.

Chesterfield Registrar Missy Vera said every voter in the county received information by mail about their new polling sites.

“That’s been on news bulletins, it’s been out there in the media, social media,” said Vera. “We’ve been trying to get it out there that people need to find out where their precinct is before they show up to vote.”

dress@timesdispatch.com (804) 649-6948

Twitter: @daveress1

lpowell@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6103

Twitter: @luca_a_powell

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