Why New Kent absentee ballots won't be counted until Election Day

New Kent absentee votes
Posted at 12:04 AM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 07:32:47-04

NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- It's been a hectic year for New Kent County registrar Karen Bartlett. A record number of voters have cast ballots before Election Day.

“We’ve been averaging about 100 a day since September 18 and yesterday we had 211," Bartlett said.

So far, Barlett said more than 6,000 voters have turned in absentee ballots.

Those votes haven’t been processed yet because of new machines ordered this year.

"[The machine] scans the actual ballot and it also captures all of the write-ins at the end of the tape which is something that we used to have to write down and make out names," Bartlett said.

She said the machines arrived in early September, but they must go through accuracy testing before they can be used. That testing is conducted by an election official, who had been stuck in Hawaii because of the pandemic.

"So, she was stuck over there from March. She was supposed to be back in June and in June she couldn’t get a flight back because of the pandemic," Bartlett said.

Barlett said the official made it back earlier this month and the machines have since been tested, but the ballots that were turned in before her arrival were sealed in envelopes by the voters and they’ll have to wait to be counted until Election Day.

“The ballots actually stay here. They stay here in a locked room in a back office," Barlett said.

On Election Day, Barlett said two teams from both political parties will place the uncounted ballots in the machines and tally the votes together.

"One person slips the ballot open, then you have another person that takes it out, then a third person that actually feeds the ballot through the machine," Bartlett said.

Bartlett said the machines have been tested and will be ready for use on Election Day.

“Everything's working pretty good, this is just a new something for a lot of people that have not done absentee voting or early voting," Bartlett said.