Virginia Board of Elections mistakenly removes eligible voters from rolls

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Oct 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-04 17:49:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia Board of Elections has acknowledged incorrectly removing eligible voters from the voting rolls.

Those voters are felons who had their rights restored but whose names were added to the list of those who had committed another crime and were deemed ineligible.

The exact number who were mistakenly told by the Board of Elections that they can't vote is significant: Shawn Weneta from the ACLU told me the false notifications could number in the thousands.
With early voting already underway, he says it's a troubling problem because there is not a lot of time to find and let those voters know they can, in fact, head to the polls.

CBS 6 asked the Board spokesperson how many there might be, and Andrea Gaines told me the board is still working out the exact number with state police.
Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller told me they send monthly reports on felonies and parole violations to the Board.
The Board used those parole violations, and not just actual felonies, as the reason to take away the former felons' rights.
Geller says going forward VSP will only enter felonies into the database used by the board.
But for one Democratic lawmaker, that fix may be too late for this year's highly contested state elections.

"That's great news for the next presidential election, but I'm not sure it's going to do us a lot for this election right now, which is what we're mostly focused on," said State Senator Scott Surovell (D- Fairfax).

"So, I appreciate the fact that they've taken steps to make sure it's going to stop, but that doesn't deal with the problem we have on our hands, because of what the Department of Elections did with their state police data, without really understanding what it was they were being given."

CBS 6 reached out to the governor's office for comment and spokesperson Macaulay Porter sent this statement:
"When the governor's office became aware of the inconsistencies regarding the misclassification of probation violations as felonies, as had been the process in previous administrations, he asked for VSP to correct the process and ordered a review. The governor is committed to ensuring those that are eligible can vote and those affected will have their registration reinstated."

Shawn Weneta from the ACLU said it is not clear prior administrations had the same problem and that his office had never fielded complaints from voters who were told in error they were not eligible through this process.

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