State elections officials directed more than 30,000 Northern Virginia voters to the wrong polling place in mailers sent ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, an error they acknowledged Friday and blamed on the private printing company that produced the notices.
Those mistakes follow an even more error-riddled effort in Southwest Virginia, where an additional 30,000 voters were affected. Some notices in that part of the state were sent to physical addresses instead of P.O. boxes, then re-sent to the boxes, but with the wrong information, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported this week.
And earlier this month, the department disclosed that an unspecified technical glitch had left about 107,000 voter applications in limbo for months.
State elections officials promised that the mistakes would not prevent anyone from voting. Local registrars for Fairfax and Prince William counties will send corrected notices to all affected voters Monday, according to a news release from the department that noted the state would reimburse the localities for that expense.
But Democrats seized on the string of errors to question the competence of the Elections Department under Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), a former private equity chief who won the office last year on promises to bring “election integrity” and his executive skills to state government,
Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chair Bryan Graham suggested Youngkin’s hectic political travel schedule might be to blame. A potential 2024 presidential candidate, Youngkin has sought to raise his national profile by stumping for GOP gubernatorial candidates in about a dozen states, including some who embrace former president Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
This week alone, Youngkin spent Tuesday in Oregon campaigning with Christine Drazan, who has rejected Trump’s claim, and Wednesday in Arizona with Kari Lake, a 2020 denier. He’s scheduled to stump in Wisconsin on Wednesday for Tim Michels, the GOP candidate for governor, who has dodged questions about whether he’d try to reverse Trump’s 2020 loss.
In his appearance with Lake, Youngkin suggested he’d been an effective elections watchdog even before taking office, telling the crowd that on Election Day last year, his campaign had “5,000 poll watchers, election observers handing out sample ballots, keeping an eye on things.”
“It is disappointing that the Party now in charge of administering our elections is so woefully incompetent at managing something as simple as a voter information mailer,” Graham said in a written statement. “Instead of gallivanting across the country for election conspiracy theorists, Gov. Youngkin should be in the state he was elected to serve to lead his Administration in fulfilling their duties to the people of the Commonwealth.”
Asked to respond to the criticism, Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter invoked a recent, seemingly unrelated controversy over LGBTQ children, child abuse, and parental rights. She said, “Democrats are doing all they can to distract” from that matter.
In Northern Virginia, the department said the “error was due to a printing issue in which the voting location was kept static on the print job and not changed for each voter,” the department’s statement said.
“The Department of Elections will cease its relationship with the printing vendor and will explore all legal remedies,” it said.
The problem affected voters in Dumfries, Haymarket, Occoquan, Quantico, Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna.
In Southwest Virginia, the errors affected voters in the cities of Bristol and Norton as well as Amherst, Buchanan, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, Washington, and Wise counties. Corrected notices have been sent to all voters there, state officials said.