Oops! Look What We Just Found!

Susan Beals, Commissioner of Elections Photo credit: Virginia Mercury

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The Youngkin Department of Elections just recently began processing more than 107,000 voter registration applications dating back to last spring. This is after early voting had begun.

These applications involved residents who had registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The snafu is blamed on a computer “glitch” that caused “intermittent network issues within the Department of Elections” that resulted in the Department of Elections not picking up on the applications. No one in that office seemed to notice the sudden drop-off in “motor voter” registrations that began in May.

The result is that local registrars had bunches of new registration applications dumped on them during their busiest part of the year. The Chesterfield registrar suddenly had about 5,000 applications to process, for example; Henrico had about 4,500; and Hanover, 1,100.

Virginia Commissioner of Elections Susan Beals has issued assurances that no applications have been lost and the local registrars, without complaining, are grinning and bearing it. They are the ones that will bear the brunt of the work in processing those applications quickly. “It just means we’re going to have to work long hours to get it done,” said the Richmond registrar.

State Senator Lionel Spruill, D-Chesapeake, chair of the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections, wants some answers. As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, he recently wrote to Beals and posed these questions:

  • What has caused the “intermittent network issues”?
  • Why have these issues not happened before?
  • Why are they occurring after voting has begun and shortly before an election?
  • Is the department prepared to handle same-day voter registration on Election Day?
  • Are there any bills and/or budget authority that your department requires to avoid these kinds of issues in the future?

The voters of the Commonwealth also deserve to know the answers to these questions.

It is worth noting that some folks on this blog were quick to jump on any incident during the last administration that seemed to them to indicate incompetence or bad intentions. See here and here for examples. Those same folks have been curiously silent over this revelation.