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Ballot shortage frustrates Chesterfield voters

line to vote outside the Life Long Learning Center in Chesterfield County
Posted at 7:21 PM, Nov 02, 2021

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — A line of voters remained outside the Life Long Learning Center, a polling location on Westfield Road in Midlothian, as the polls closed on Election Day.

Sample ballot greeters outside the polling place told Shannon Lilly that the precinct ran out of ballots at about 2:30 p.m.

Twice, they said, someone from the registrars' office dropped off incorrect ballots.

Voters eventually had to use an emergency machine that could only handle one voter at a time.

Some would-be voters waited in the long line, others left and returned, others left and never came back, according to the witnesses.

"When we finally got to the front of the line, we saw a policeman or sheriff arrived with a box of ballots and they were all cheering," David Livingston, a voter, said.

Livingston and his family were upset after he said they waited for an hour and a half just for their ballots to not be scanned but instead, placed in a box to be counted later.

"We're mad, obviously, because it seems like a lot more trouble, a lot more wait than any elective I've even voted in before," Livingston said.

Volunteer poll worker Kendall Wallace said that these problems were difficult to watch.

"Most people can't wait in those lines, so we've had a lot of people here that didn't get to vote," Wallace said.

The State Board of Elections addressed some of the issues voters experienced on Tuesday at an 8 p.m. press briefing.

Department of Elections Commissioner, Chris Piper, described a successful day despite complaints.

"Overall, the election today was as smooth as we could ask for," Piper said.

However, he did say that due to heavy voter turnout, there were several localities that reported ballot shortages including Appomattox, Floyd, Powhatan, Madison, Abermarle, and in Chesterfield.

In Chesterfield, he said two precincts ran out of ballots. He said some ballots may need to be hand-counted in Chesterfield and several other of the localities that reported a shortage.

In response to the shortage of ballots at the Life Long Learning Center precinct, Piper responded with the following.

"The report that I have currently is that election officers were instructed to have voters cast ballots on the ballot marking devices in the polling places and that voting went on uninterrupted," Piper said.

His recommendation to anyone with concerns was to file a complaint with the Virginia Department of Elections.

He also added that he and his team do what they can to assure equal access.

"We do everything we can to ensure that voters have equal access to the ballot and they can be sure that their vote counts," Piper said. "If there are issues, we want to know about them and we want to ensure that we can correct them in a timely manner."

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.