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County hit with deluge of new voter registrations a week before election

Sample ballots for Fairfax County’s 2022 midterm election (via Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter)

(Updated at 7:35 p.m.) The race to finalize voter rolls for next week’s midterm elections may come down to the wire after Fairfax County received thousands of new applications today (Monday).

A computer error that affected Virginia’s voter registration system earlier this summer resulted in the state sending another 11,000 applications to the Fairfax County Office of Elections, which says it “will do whatever it takes” to process the documents in time for Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The applications came from people who registered to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles between May and September, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Individuals who updated their address or made other changes to their voter information were also affected.

State officials said the delay stemmed from “intermittent network issues” that were first reported on Oct. 5, according to The Washington Post.

“These new applications are in addition to the previous 11,789 DMV voter registrations from this summer that the state delayed sending to the county until Oct. 5,” the county elections office said in a news release, noting that all of the earlier applications were processed before the registration deadline on Oct. 17.

The state elections department said the new backlog was identified after it conducted a review of the registration system, prompted by reports of “several voters” trying to vote early only to find that their information hadn’t been updated.

Those voters were able to cast a ballot after the local general registrar updated their information on-site, the department said.

“I am very grateful for the vigilance of Virginia’s general registrars in quickly surfacing concerns during early voting,” Virginia Elections Commissioner Susan Beals said. “With information from local officials, ELECT’s IT professionals were able to scour the election system data to identify the additional transactions for processing.”

This isn’t the first hiccup that the state has encountered in the run-up to the upcoming election. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a letter last week calling for a full investigation into an erroneous mailer sent to voters in the towns of Herndon, Vienna and Clifton that directed them to a polling site in Fairfax City.

The functionality and reliability of the Virginia Election and Registration Information System (VERIS) has been a concern for years. Beals announced on Oct. 24 that the Department of Elections has awarded a contract to replace the 15-year-old system.

However, “coordination with the Virginia Department of Elections has been more difficult than in the past,” Fairfax County Director of Elections Eric Spicer told FFXnow.

Del. Mark Sickles (District 43) suggested that the technical challenges are being exacerbated by the departure of former elections commissioner Chris Piper, who resigned in March after Gov. Glenn Youngkin declined to reappoint him.

Fairfax County voters can confirm their registration status online or by calling the county elections office at 703-222-0776, TTY 711.

Same-day registration is also available for the first time in Virginia voters, though those voters will cast a provisional ballot that won’t be counted until after Election Day.

“It is critical that you fill out the same day registration application accurately and completely,” the county elections office said.

The county has 16 early voting sites open and is accepting mail-in ballots, though the deadline to request an absentee ballot passed on Friday (Oct. 28).

This year’s general election will determine the county’s Congressional representatives as well as Herndon’s new mayor and town council.

Photo via Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter

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