The Lynchburg Registrar’s Office maintains that allegations of improper absentee ballot counting were a result of an unintentional oversight of ballot law. No Republican officials were present per the Code of Virginia.
On Monday, the only workers present to process absentee ballots were “non-party affiliation.” Emails shared with The Virginia Star reveal that some of these workers had identified as Democrats up until last year.
Both the Lynchburg Republican City Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) accused the Lynchburg Registrar’s Office of illegally counting absentee ballots earlier this week.
Chris Marston, general counsel for the RPV, explained to The Star that the main issue was a lack of proper communication between the registrar and the Republicans. Even if the Democratic Party chooses to pass on their right to have one of their officials present for ballot processing, that doesn’t mean the Republican Party has their right waived automatically.
“In my view, the issue is there wasn’t a Republican – not that there weren’t any Democrats. In the code section on pre-processing of absentee ballots, it specifically says you must have two officers of election represented. The proper thing to do would’ve been to not process the ballots and reschedule,” he said.
Marston added that he didn’t think the ballot counting was “an evil plot,” to compromise the integrity of the election.
The legal representative for Gibbons, David Neumeyer, told The Star that Monday’s mishap wouldn’t happen again.
“I think what happened Monday was a one-off and will serve as a learning opportunity,” he said. “We had no alternate for the one Republican listed to work, and he got sick. It’s not going to happen again.”
As for future voting procedures, Neumeyer shared that the registrar’s office has discussed future precautions to avoid making similar mistakes.
“I think Christine has arranged with the party chairs to have a designated Republican there, and ensure there are multiple backups,” the lawyer said.
No further clarification was available about the poll workers’ change from registered Democrats to “non-party affiliation.”
Neither Neumeyer nor Marston shared that they’d heard any other reports of this sort of improper absentee ballot counting.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Ballots” by Davison County Election Commission.