The Bulletin

In the first few hours of voting, Virginia has a few expected “hiccups”

By: - November 6, 2018 1:17 pm

A man and his dog stood outside a polling place in Virginia Beach while the dog “barked like crazy,” a Norfolk City Councilwoman said in a social media post. She called it voter intimidation and it was reported to the state.

Virginia has started Election Day with only a few minor issues, elections officials reported at a briefing this morning.

The most significant thus far was in Chesapeake, where about a dozen of the first voters at one polling place received the wrong ballot, said Chris Piper, commissioner of the Department of Elections.

Instead of voting in the 3rd Congressional District, where Democratic incumbent Bobby Scott is running unopposed, voters were given a ballot to vote in the 4th District, where incumbent Democrat Donald McEachin is running against Republican Ryan McAdams and Libertarian Pete Wells.

Those ballots were pulled to the side and will be considered later. The affected voters won’t be able to cast a new ballot in the correct congressional district, Piper said.

Other than that, there were a few “typical hiccups” in the morning voting hours, Piper said.

One polling place in Chesterfield County opened about 45 minutes late because the electronic pollbook, which is used to verify registration, wasn’t working, Piper said.

There were other reports of voting machines or electronic pollbooks that weren’t functioning, but they were handled, Piper said. In some cases, fixing those problems may have caused delays.

In Henrico County, voters were concerned that their ballots would not be counted because of a broken ballot scanner machine.

When voters fill out a ballot but it can’t be counted right away, it’s put to the side in a box to be counted later, Piper said. Observers from both political parties watch the counting process at the end of the day to make ballots are properly counted.

The state also monitors instances of potential voter intimidation, like one incident in Virginia Beach where an apparent enthusiastic Republican supporter and his dog were on site. The dog, according to Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan, was “barking like crazy at voters.”

The incident was reported to the state, which keeps track of complaints about voter intimidation, Piper said. The state doesn’t resolve the issue though; that falls to local law enforcement.

“I understand the man and dog have left and police are at the poll now. Hoping this is an anomaly. We are better than this!,” McClellan later tweeted.

This story includes/started as a tip from ProPublica’s Electionland project, which monitors voting problems around the country. If you had trouble voting, or if you saw something you want to tell us about, here’s how.

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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.