Some voters got the wrong ballots in Stafford, again

A voting sign at Pemberton Elementary School in Henrico,, November 5, 2019. (Parker Michels-Boyce/ for the Virginia Mercury)

While voting got off to a mostly uneventful start across the state, there was some déjà vu from the 2017 legislative elections in one county.

In Stafford County, some early-morning voters in six precincts received the wrong ballots. State elections officials are still investigating the problem, but it appears to have affected voters in House Districts 2, 28 and 88, said Commissioner of Elections Chris Piper in a morning briefing.

House District 28 had a significant wrong-ballot problem in 2017. Democratic candidate Josh Cole lost the race to Republican Del. Bob Thomas by 73 votes. About 150 voters were assigned to incorrect precincts and voted in the wrong election.

Cole was running again this year in a competitive race against Republican Scott Milde. This time, though, Cole appeared to have pulled ahead.

The state is not sure how many people were impacted or how it happened this year. The problem was fixed quickly, but voters who already submitted their vote on an incorrect ballot won’t be able to recast their vote, Piper said.

Democratic Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy defended her seat from Republican Heather Mitchell in House District 2 and Republican Del. Mark Cole appeared to have cruised to reelection over Democrat Jess Foster in the 88th district.

The state was also monitoring issues with at least one polling place in Richmond running out of ballots, Piper said. The polling place included a split precinct, which requires more than one ballot. The local registrar’s office sent too many ballots for one precinct to the polling place and not enough for the other.

The local office had more ballots at the site within 15 minutes, Piper said.

NBC12 reported about 40 people left the polling place without voting because of the lapse.