Central Virginia voter registrars address concerns, challenges with General Assembly changes to election

Central Virginia voter registrars address concerns, challenges with General Assembly changes to election

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Between mandatory intelligent mail barcodes on absentee envelopes to finding the right drop boxes, those in charge of this year’s unprecedented presidential election say they need answers to get things ready in time.

Richmond’s Voter Registrar says her office has to stuff and prepare at least 13,000 absentee ballots to be in the mail on Sept. 18, when absentee voting starts. But, with no details on dropbox specifications or locations, Kirk Showalter is concerned with the clock ticking.

“Most of the vendors who make drop boxes have sold out already,” said Showalter. “So there an issue of even finding them to have and then also determining the locations of where they will be.”

Last week, state lawmakers in the House and Senate paved the way for new requirements ahead of the 2020 presidential election, including absentee drop boxes. Absentee voting or early voting is expected to dramatically increase with COVID-19 pandemic concerns.

“It’s like trying to turn the Queen Mary on a dime,” said Showalter. “You’ve got Queen Mary steaming full ahead and then making a change is, can be difficult and especially change this close to the election.”

Other voter registrars, like Constance Hargrove in Chesterfield County, are getting creative by using ballot bags with an officer manning them to make sure no one walks off with your vote.

“We already had them and in order to up ballot boxes, you need to put up security, you have to put up cameras,” said Hargrove. “You need to really secure them to the ground and that just wasn’t going to happen in the time period we have to get this done. So it just made more sense to use what we have.”

Hanover County’s Voter Registrar ordered drop boxes even before lawmakers began talks with mail delay concerns. Her’s are under 24-hour surveillance.

Henrico County’s Voter Registrar says he’s found some companies with drop boxes but is hesitant to buy them without any guidance yet from the Virginia Department of Elections. Meanwhile, Showalter just hopes they have enough time.

“It’s a big challenge,” said Showalter. “Somehow we do, we will make it all work and figure it out.”

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