Va. Dept. of Elections clears up misinformation about ‘counted votes’ on voter registration pages

Updated: Nov. 5, 2020 at 12:52 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Department of Elections (VDE) is trying to set the record straight after employees received a number of calls and emails from voters about a viral social media effort urging voters to check and see if their vote was counted.

On Thursday morning, the VDE posted on social media about the issue. NBC12 also received numerous phone calls and emails from voters concerned after reviewing their registration information.

“Essentially what they’re claiming is when you go to our website and check your voter record, it’s not showing that your vote has been counted,” said VDE Commissioner Chris Piper.

According to the VDE, that claim is not accurate. However, Piper acknowledged more information needs to be shared about the tallying process.

“We understand that the public doesn’t necessarily know the ins and outs of election administration so we’re happy to set the record straight,” he added.

“It’s overwhelming and it’s confusing,” said Stephanie Bell, of Henrico.

Bell is just one of many people who were concerned about what she saw on her voter registration page, specifically in the “My Ballot” section. Under her section, it reads, “ballot information was not found”.

“It’s missing information,” she said.

According to the VDE, that section is blank because there is no active election right now; that ended on Tuesday.

Per the VA Dept. of Elections, the "Voter History" is where your voter credit will be issued.
Per the VA Dept. of Elections, the "Voter History" is where your voter credit will be issued.(NBC12)

“This is where races to appear on the ballot you would be voting would be listed if there were an active election,” said Deputy Commissioner Jessica Bowman.

However, voters also claimed because ’2020 November Election' is not listed under the “Voter History” tab, that their vote was not counted. Piper said that is not what that section tracks.

“What they’re talking about is voter credit,” he explained. “Voter credit is something that occurs after all the counting of the ballots has occurred. It’s a manual process that the registrars go through to update our voter registration database. So that information isn’t going to show up for at least a week.”

“It needs to be a little easier for us to understand and make sure that what we’re doing as American is counted - each and every vote,” Bell said.

The voter credit will appear where it says, “Voter History”. If the 2020 November General Election is not posted on your registration, that means your credit has not yet been posted.

“If you voted in person on Election Day, it may be a week or more until voter credit is applied,” Piper said.

However, Piper reiterated if you voted in-person on Election Day, your vote was immediately counted.

Meanwhile, for people who voted early in-person and absentee by mail, your counted vote will fall under the “Vote Absentee by Mail” category.

“In Virginia, technically any vote that occurs before Election Day is absentee,” Piper said. “It means you will be absent on Election Day or won’t be participating in voting on Election Day so you’re going to cast your vote absentee.”

Despite changes to the rule this year, if you voted early in-person you will still be listed under “Vote Absentee by Mail”. The best way to ensure those votes were counted is to look under that section.

Per the VA Dept. of Elections, if you voted early in-person or mailed your absentee ballot,...
Per the VA Dept. of Elections, if you voted early in-person or mailed your absentee ballot, this is what the section on your voter registration should look like. If there is a date in the "ballot received" section, it means your vote was counted.(NBC12)

“There you will see where it says ballot received, and that’s an important distinction,” Piper said. “If you voted by mail and it’s not showing as received then that’s a good question to ask your registrar at this point. It does not mean it will not be received, it may just be making its way through the process.”

At this point, Piper said registrars are still receiving absentee ballots through the mail and processing those dropped off at polling locations. Registrar offices have until Friday at noon as long as those ballots are postmarked by Election Day.

“This is the same process we go through in every single election,” Piper said. “These are great, hardworking people who are just interested in the integrity of the vote and making sure your vote counts. Please trust the process. It is important and they are working hard on your behalf. Nothing nefarious is going on.”

As of Thursday, the Virginia Department of Elections received an overall total of nearly one-million mail-in ballots. Final vote totals should be updated on Friday.

Local election results will be certified on Nov. 10. The State Board of Elections will meet on Nov. 16 for the final vote certification.

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