Lawmakers budget money to maintain voter rolls, fix elections system

Lawmakers budget money to maintain voter rolls, fix elections system
Voters in Short Pump precinct cast their ballots. The area saw a surge in Democratic voters after Trump's 2016 election. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Lawmakers want to spend more money on the Department of Elections, which lacks adequate staff and technology to perform some of its duties, according to a report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.

The study found that the department uses a computer system that tends to crash on important days, that there isn’t enough staff for training and there have been agency leaders who showed political bias.

The state Department of Elections doesn’t fund local elections, which are the responsibility of local governments. The department, does, however, create guidance and regulations for local governments to follow.

The House of Delegates proposed adding $1.2 million to the already approved $17.8 million budget to help with elections administration at the state level.

Included in the House budget proposal is $297,443 for two full-time positions to help maintain the voter rolls in the state. The JLARC report said the list of 5.5 million voters is “likely mostly accurate” but people could still end up assigned to the wrong district because there isn’t enough guidance for local registrars on when to remove voters from rolls or assigning them to precincts.

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.