The Bulletin

Debunking social media claims, Virginia officials say it’ll take time for online voter info to update

By: - November 5, 2020 10:36 am

Voters at a polling station in Buckingham County, Va., November 3, 2020. (Parker Michels-Boyce / For the Virginia Mercury)

Virginia elections officials say voters shouldn’t be alarmed if the state’s election website doesn’t immediately show their ballot was counted, noting it usually takes several days for that information to appear.

The Virginia Department of Elections released the statement in response to viral, false social media theories circulating under the hashtag #WheresMyVote. Many people are spreading claims that because election websites don’t already reflect that they voted this year, their votes aren’t being counted.

In a statement Thursday morning, the state elections agency said voter data is only sent to the state after local electoral boards certify results.

“It may take a few days for your vote from 2020 to show up on our website, but please do not be alarmed,” agency said. “This is part of the normal process. Thank you to all the Virginians that cast their ballot in Tuesday’s election!”

Republican Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, issued a similar statement on Twitter Wednesday evening.

“This is part of the normal process and we confirmed as much with one of our local registrars,” Wilt wrote.

The attempt to correct false information comes as President Donald Trump and his supporters fuel baseless conspiracy claims that the election results are being manipulated.

At least one prominent Virginia Republican joined in the effort to cast doubt on the election’s veracity.

Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, at a committee meeting in the General Assembly Building. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

On Wednesday, Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, who previously held sway over Virginia election policy as the chairman of the House of Delegates elections committee, tweeted an article from a conservative website that used unproven claims of voting irregularities to falsely declare Democrats were “trying to steal” the election in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“Democrats seem to have a knack for ‘finding’ votes as they keep counting after Election Day!” Cole said in his tweet.

The article Cole shared relies largely on a typo in Michigan’s results. The fact-checking website Snopes has declared the rumor about Michigan’s results false.

Cole’s tweet drew condemnation from Democrats who said he was spreading falsehoods to undermine confidence in the democratic process.

“This guy used to be the chair of Virginia’s House Committee on Privileges and Elections, and he’s pretending he doesn’t know how ballot counting works,” tweeted Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. Contact him at [email protected]