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Astounding! Virginia Election Board Certified Results They Knew Were Wrong

November 28, 2017


On Monday, the Virginia State Board of Elections made an astounding decision to certify election results which they knew and admitted were wrong.


This included House of Delegate District 28 in Stafford County, where the results are only 84 votes apart, and where the Department of Election confirmed that at least 147 voters were assigned the wrong district (either were assigned into District 28 in error, or should have been assigned to District 28 and were assigned somewhere else).


In view of these confirmed errors which clearly could impact the winner, why would the Virginia Election Board go ahead and certify the results?   Because of a deadline!   Monday was the deadline stated in the Virginia election code by which the results needed to be certified.


Now was it more important to meet the deadline, or to ensure the election results were correct? - both of which are statutory requirements from the Virginia election code.


The Board chose to go with the deadline - even though they knew the exact results were not correct, and that the errors were large enough, by all reasonable standards, that they could flip the election winner.  


One may wonder what the point of certifying is in the first place - if the Board's only job is to certify by the deadline, no matter how correct or incorrect the results are.


To justify the decision, Election Board's Chairman James Alcorn stated that the Board did not have the power to clean up the Fredericksburg mess on their own (!) - or the power to order a new election.


But how difficult was it to contact the 147 voters assigned in wrong districts, and ask them to vote again(identify for whom they voted in the incorrect district to subtract those votes and for whom they would vote in the corrected district)  then adjust the results accordingly?   Maybe not obvious, but definitely feasible within a few days.  


Instead, the Board Chairman declared that the right course of action was to "let the courts sort it out" - which surely will take much more time and taxpayer money - or perhaps most astounding statement of all, to let the results be decided by the House itself! As if the House, still Republican-dominated, would objectively decide the fate of its own majority.


All is not lost but time is of the essence:   The 147 voters' addresses are listed in this document from the Department of Elections:     Names of voters associated with these addresses should be requested (via emergency FOIA if needed), and volunteers should collect old vote/new vote information from each of these voters.  If it turns out this reverses the 84 votes separating Robert Thomas from Joshua Cole (or whatever the margin is after the recount), this should be a strong enough case that the certification must be nullified.


In addition, if in the meantime it is found that the scope of  irregularities goes way beyond the 147 voters, then a new election must definitely be called for.


Coming out of the certification meeting Monday, State Board member Clara Belle Wheeler declared: "I am proud of this Board. We fulfilled our obligation to the code and to the people to certify the election.”  Surely "the people" did not include those voters who were disenfranchised by having their vote improperly counted.


The Virginia Election Board should not be proud of itself.  They acted as helpless bureaucrats rather than principled officials defending the integrity of the election process, the right of each and every eligible voter to have their vote properly counted, and the right of each and every Virginian to be represented by a House of Delegates whose majority is the result of a fair and equitable process.



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VA Democracy Forward (VADF) is a grassroots group based in Northern Virginia.  Our mission is to restore and advance progressive Democratic values.

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