Central Virginia voters question whether their provisional ballots will be counted

Posted at 5:49 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 18:09:12-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Several Central Virginia voters reported issues with their ballots at some polling locations around the region on Election Day.

Mamie Williams was one of the first voters in line at Hickory Hill Recreational Center on East Belt Boulevard on Richmond’s Southside Tuesday morning. She said poll workers had her fill out a provisional ballot while they worked to repair the malfunctioning counting machines.

“I’m thinking I’m going to the machine to put it in there and [a poll worker] said, ‘No, you need a green envelope,” Williams recalled. “Green envelope? I didn’t do that last year.”

Williams said the provisional ballot required her to write her name, address, phone number and last four digits of her social security on the envelope before putting her ballot inside. She said her envelope was then put in a stack on a table.

“That situation with us putting our information on that envelope was very disturbing. No one should know who we are or how we voted,” she explained. “Somebody hollered in the background, ‘They’re going to throw it in the trash!’ It didn’t make me feel like my vote was going to count."

Richmond General Registrar Kirk Showalter told CBS 6 that the ballots should’ve been placed into a security slot inside the machine while the workers waited for a fix. She ensured that those ballots will be counted and the machine was fixed shortly after the polls opened.

CBS 6 received several calls from viewers who said they were told they had already voted or had requested an absentee ballot.

Wayne Gilbert Sr. said he was notified that he had already voted by absentee ballot when he attempted to vote at Donahoe Elementary School in Henrico County.

“They said, ‘Well you requested a ballot and you already filled it out and sent it back in.’ I said, ‘No, sir I haven’t,” Gilbert stated.

After speaking with the State Board of Elections, Gilbert returned to his polling place to fill out a provisional ballot.

According to Virginia law, if polling records show that a voter was sent an absentee ballot you must bring it with you to the polls on Election Day. If you do not have your absentee ballot then you are required to fill out a provisional ballot.

During an 11 a.m. press conference, State Board of Elections Commissioner Christopher Piper said he had not received reports of voters who were told they had already casted their ballot.

“You do have the option of casting a provisional ballot if they are certain they haven’t casted their absentee ballot or a ballot before that,” Piper explained.

Showalter said she discovered some voters may not recall signing up to automatically receive an absentee ballot for all elections for the calendar year following the new no excuse absentee voting law.

The voter will then be given a provisional ballot notice with information regarding the Electoral Board meetings that begin for each locality across the Commonwealth on Wednesday. The board will research the ballot issue and determine whether or not their vote will count.

In Richmond, that meeting starts at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and adjourns from day to day until the deadline to certify votes on November 10.

At the Whitcomb Court Community Center in Richmond, Chief Officer Nelly Turner said there was a mix up at the beginning of the day that was quickly corrected.

Turner said one person was given a presidential-only ballot without the local races on it.

The ballot was scanned in, but upon realizing the mistake, Turner said the woman came back and was given a provisional ballot to fill out her section for local races as well.

Hours later, Rasheeda Clanton came to cast her ballot at the Whitcomb Court Community Center, and she wasn't alone.

"It’s an experience. I wanted her to come with me to show her how important it is to vote," Clanton said of her six-year-old daughter J'nai. "With so much going on now, and their lives are open to a lot of things -- I think this is the one thing that they can have that’s important and they can actually take something away from it."