January 8, 2016 Press Releases and Announcements

DPVA Calls Upon Richmond Electoral Board and Registrar to Provide Greater Transparency and Solutions for Voter Access Issues

by DPVA Communications


January 8, 2016

CONTACT: Emily Bolton, Emily@vademocrats.org

DPVA Calls Upon Richmond Electoral Board and Registrar to Provide Greater Transparency and Solutions for Voter Access Issues

~Data collected by the DPVA reveals widespread Election Day voting issues in the City of Richmond in 2015~


In advance of today’s State Board of Elections (SBE) meeting, the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) calls upon the City of Richmond Electoral Board and Registrar to acknowledge the prevalence of issues on Election Day, implement procedures to address these problems in advance of the 2016 election, and operate with greater transparency. These urgent concerns were sent in the form of a letter to the SBE on January 7, 2016. The full text of the letter is available here.


In 2015, a multitude of problems with voting in Richmond City were reported to the DPVA, both through the voter hotline and through its poll observer program. There were multiple accounts of voters being turned away, election officials improperly requesting additional identification, and voters receiving the wrong ballots. Attempts by the DPVA to express concerns about these issues were met with a disappointing response from the Richmond Registrar and Electoral Board that raised issues of transparency and accountability. This is an urgent and paramount issue that calls into question the right to vote. The public deserves to know why some voters in Richmond experienced issues voting and what plans will be implemented to make certain voters’ rights will be protected.


"Nothing is more sacred and fundamental than Virginians' right to vote, and when issues arise on Election Day it is imperative that the public is informed about what went wrong and how issues will be rectified in advance of future elections," said Susan Swecker, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. "These issues must be rectified so that people have the confidence that their vote will be counted, that they will not be turned away, and that they will be met with proper procedures to ensure their rights are respected."


The issues outlined in the letter can be found below:


  1. Training Issues


  • In 2015 and 2014, we received reports that voters’ photo IDs were improperly challenged, particularly in instances when the address on the photo ID did not match the voter registration address.


  • In 2015, election workers were incorrectly checking in individuals by first asking for their names and if their addresses had changed rather than asking the voters to state their names and addresses.


  • In 2015, we were able to confirm several instances of voters being provided with the wrong ballot in split precincts. Some voters had to identify their residence on a map so the election officers could determine which ballot to provide.  This led to human error and substantial delay.


  • In 2015, voters were turned away and told to come back to at least two precincts at another time due to the broken electronic poll books.


  • In 2012 and 2014, we received multiple reports of voters who were not provided with provisional ballots as required by federal law.


  1. Machine Issues


  • In 2015, we received numerous reports that electronic poll books across the city were not working properly. We later learned that this was due to incorrect programming.   Additionally, election workers with poll book issues in their precincts were unable to quickly reach the City of Richmond Registrar for guidance. The DPVA was also unable to reach the City of Richmond Registrar to report the problems.


  • In 2014, there were widespread machine issues across the city due to the age of the voting machines.


  • In 2012, voting machines were sent to the wrong precincts. Voting machine tags in the precinct did not match the inventory, causing significant delay in the opening of the polls.


  1. Incomplete Poll Books


  • In 2012, 2013, and 2015, we saw issues with voters who had changed their registration not appearing in the poll book. In 2015, when reporting these issues to an election officer, one of our poll workers was informed that there have been some human errors in the past that have prevented re-registrations from appearing in the city.


  • In 2012 and 2013 the DPVA engaged in widespread voter registration efforts, particularly on college campuses. In both years, the DPVA saw reports of Virginia Commonwealth University (“VCU”) students showing up to the polls with new, valid voter ID cards that listed the specific precinct where they appeared as their polling place. However, the poll workers in those precincts were unable to find their names in the poll book. In addition, other VCU students who had registered with the school never received their voter registration cards, and were also not listed in the poll books at their precincts.

In 2012, voters – primarily new registrants – were called into the registrar individually in some precincts to verify their identity.


SBE meeting information:

Friday, January 8, 2016 General Assembly Building Room C 10:00AM