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Richmond Electoral Board removes General Registrar Kirk Showalter 'for cause'

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Posted at 6:49 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 07:56:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond Electoral Board voted 2-1 Monday night to dismiss General Registrar Kirk Showalter "for cause" following allegations of mishandling the November election.

Showalter has served as the city’s chief elections officer since 1995.

Last year, the Democratic Party of Virginia, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, and others called for Richmond Registrar Kirk Showalter to step down from her job citing events that occurred before, during, and after the 2020 election.

“There was only one registrar in the Commonwealth that I’ve had to sue and that was Kirk Showalter,” said Democratic Party of Virginia chair Susan Swecker.

Electoral Board Chair Jim Nachmann didn't comment on specifics regarding Showalter's performance calling it "personnel matters."

Last week, Showalter sent an email to her employees calling the allegations “ugly rumors” and “fabrications.”

She also urged them to speak out in her defense at Monday's Electoral Board meeting.

“I think we did a pretty good job,” Showalter told CBS 6 before the meeting. “The voters seemed happy. We served a record number of persons coming through the new location.”

In a letter to the Richmond Electoral Board, Swecker, and Richmond Democratic Committee chair Jamie Nolan outlined multiple reasons for their call to action.

Those reasons include:

  • Failure to comply with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA requests) from the Democratic Party of Virginia
  • Providing false information to the Democratic Party of Virginia in response to Freedom of Information Act requests
  • Admission the office was not contacting voters within three days of noticing "a material omission" on their absentee ballot envelope
  • Mishandling of a COVID-19 outbreak within the office
  • Changing vote counts in the 2nd and 8th district races with little explanation

"I know you all share the same goal as we do: to ensure that Richmonders can safely and easily make their voices heard at the ballot box. Unfortunately, due to consistent failures in the Registrar's Office, this was not always the case in Richmond. We hope you will take the recommended actions to ensure this never happens again,” Swecker wrote to Richmond Electoral Board members.

Showalter was tested for the coronavirus on November 9 and received her positive results three days later.

Because of several positive tests among election employees, 90 percent of the office's workforce quarantined until November 17.

“We were operating from March until November with over 47,000 people coming through the building with no instances of COVID until the absolute last week of the election,” Showalter told CBS 6. "I think our track record, the fact we did not have any cases for those many months speak to our procedures to prevent COVID."

At the time, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson didn’t call for Showalter’s resignation and didn’t place all the blame entirely on her work. He admitted he has never met Showalter, but heard about election-related issues across the Commonwealth.

“By focusing on this one registrar of voters it misses the boat entirely. That boat is the fact that this system needs deep reform and it needs to happen in a bipartisan way,” Anderson said. “I’m calling for a deep revision, a deep review of the systems of voting we have here in Virginia. It’s very confusing and leads to this type of outcomes we’ve seen lately.”