The Lynchburg Republican Party lost in its lawsuit against the Lynchburg Registrar’s Office over ballot counting practices in this election. The two went to trial on Monday.
The lawsuit alleged that the registrar had failed one day to process absentee ballots with a Republican representative present, and had also failed to notify Republican representatives of preprocessing last Friday. The judge ruled in favor of the Lynchburg Registrar’s Office in under several hours.
Lynchburg Republican City Committee Political Director Amber Haskew shared with The Virginia Star that the judge wouldn’t hold the case or make any recommendations for Election Day. However, the judge assured her party that the courts would remain open on Election Day in the case that additional concerns arise.
“The judge said that the behavior we were complaining about had only happened up to this point with the in-person absentee ballots during early voting,” stated Haskew. “The judge ruled that she [the registrar] was sincerely sorry and it wouldn’t happen again.”
In an interview with WSET prior to the trial, the Lynchburg Elections Board Vice Chair David Neumeyer stated that the suit was without merit and predicted everything would be resolved on Monday.
Neumeyer told The Star after the trial that the judge believed the registrar had done a good job handling the mass influx of absentee ballots and early in-person voters. He added that the allegations concerning last week’s pre-processing were rectified before the trial occurred.
“On that October 29th ballot processing, Christine [the registrar] made a mistake in an email notice – she said in an email that there wouldn’t be pre-processing but in fact there was. But she told the Republican Party representative [after] that there would be [pre-processing], so they had a representative there.”
Neumeyer also explained the judge’s rationale behind the decision.
“The petition fought for a court order for the registrar to follow the law. And the judge dismissed the petition, basically saying there are no grounds for a writ of mandamus. Mandamus is really meant to be used when an official is meant to be doing their job. The judge said it was clear that she wasn’t refusing to do her job, so there was nothing going on there and nothing to be stopped.”
Last month, the party and the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) accused the registrar’s office of counting ballots illegally without Republicans present. 65 of the individuals present were “non-party affiliated” for this year, but registered as Democrats in previous years.
Haskew expressed confidence that this decision would improve voting practices going into the 2021 elections.
“I think one of the things that’s beneficial from this ruling is that we are willing to enforce what the law states, and hopefully it will be a learning experience to the registrars on the importance of following the letter of the law.”
Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Boxes of Ballots” by Fairfax County CC BY-ND 2.0.