Now that the Voter History List and corresponding list of those who voted in the 11-08-2022 November General election has been released by the VA dept. of elections (“ELECT”), we have compiled and compared the results from the official turnout statistics on the ELECT website (here) to the information contained in both the Daily Absentee List (“DAL”) and Voter History List (“VHL”) information.
These are all “official” datasets provided by ELECT, and they should theoretically all match. However, there are a number of discrepancies in the official records that need to be explained. Performing simple differences between the accumulated totals for each locality exposes these issues. For example:
- Why does the official results on the ELECT website show the total number of ballots cast for Albemarle County to be 11,105 less than the number of ballots recorded in the VHL? Why do the DAL file records show 11,429 more cast absentee (Early or Mail) ballots than the ELECT official results in Albemarle County? A: The Albemarle electoral board looked into this matter when we brought it to their attention and they reported that the registrar had made a transcription error and submitted the wrong line when submitting the election results to ELECT. While mistakes do happen, this explanation still begs the question as to why did ELECT not catch or flag these discrepancies, and what procedures are in place to prevent, catch or rectify these issues.
- Why does Richmond City show 25,500 more ballots cast in the official turnout results on the ELECT website than are present in the VHL? Why are there 325 more absentee (Early or Mail) ballots in the ELECT website data than the DAL file?
- Why is the sum of the absolute value of discrepancies between the VHL and the official results on the ELECT website 69,381?
- Why is the sum of the absolute value of discrepancies in absentee ballots (Early or Mail) between the DAL and the official results on the ELECT website 28,515?
- Why does the VHL data records contain zero “Election Day” records for Covington City?
- … etc
We have notified a number of local electoral board members, registrars and election integrity groups, and postponed publishing this data until after they were able to validate the existence of these discrepancies, in the hopes that they can discover the source of the discrepancies and rectify the issues.
As a further dive into the data, we also computed and noted the following additional issues. Documentation on these specific discrepancies are available upon request by entities that are able to receive and process election data according to VA law and ELECT requirements. We will not publish the details publicly on this blog as they reveal personal voter information, but will give the summary results below. Please contact us for further information.
- There were 3,354 records of valid absentee ballots cast recorded in the VHL that did not have corresponding entries (matched by voter ID) in the DAL record.
- There were also 19,723 records of valid absentee ballots cast recorded in the DAL that did not have corresponding entries (matched by voter ID) in the VHL record.
- The VHL contained 6 records of ballots cast in the VA Nov 2022 election that do not have a corresponding registration record in the Registered Voter List (RVL) dated 11/23/2022.
- The VHL contained 93 records of ballots cast in any election that do not have a corresponding registration record in the Registered Voter List (RVL) dated 11/23/2022.
- The 11/23/2022 statewide RVL contained 1,197 records that had duplicate records with different voter IDs, based on performing an exact match to first name, middle name, last name, suffix, full date-of-birth, and gender.
Background and Methodology:
The DAL file is supposed to track all of the transactions for the non-election day ballots for a specific election. This includes any Mail-In or Early In-Person ballots. (Any non-election day ballot is considered to be an “absentee” ballot in VA.) It is updated daily throughout the course of the election and is finalized once the election is certified. The VA 2022 election was certified by all of the localities by 11-18-2022. The last version of the DAL file we purchased and obtained from ELECT and used for this analysis was dated 12/13/2022, and it had been unchanged for a number of weeks by that point. We downloaded and archived copies of the DAL file multiple times per day in order to track the changes near-real-time over the course of the election cycle. (The day-to-day changes to the DAL records over time are documented in other blog entries.)
The VHL is updated by election officials after the election has concluded by adding the “voter credit” into VERIS (the state election database) for all registered voters that cast a ballot in the election (either absentee or on election day). The VHL contains information covering the last 4 years of election history for each currently registered voter. As of mid-January we were informed that all of the voter credit updates had been completed in the VERIS database for the 2022 General Election. (Why this isn’t done automatically similar to the DAL file entries and made available before election certification?) The version of the VHL that we purchased and obtained from ELECT and used for this analysis is from 1/26/2023. We specifically tried to time our purchase of the VHL to occur after the voter credit updates had been completed but before the scheduled maintenance process of removing longstanding “inactive” voters had taken place. We note that even if some “Inactive” voters had been removed from the VHL by the time we purchased the VHL, that should not impact this analysis, as the act of voting in the 2022 election would require the voters status to be listed as “Active”.
The “official” turnout report page on the ELECT website (here, again) was downloaded and converted to an excel spreadsheet on 2/4/2023. The notes on the website page is that the information content was last updated on 12/06/2022. (We have archived a pdf copy of the site as we downloaded it for reference attached to the bottom of this post.) All of the local electoral boards had completed their canvass by 11/18/2022 and submitted their information to ELECT, so there is no reason that this information should be missing any data.
The official turnout results from ELECT tabulate the Early Voting, Election Day, By Mail, and Provisional ballots cast and accounted for during the 2022 General Election. The DAL file includes information as to the Mail-In, Early Voting, and Absentee Provisional ballots cast. The VHL contains information as to all voters who cast a ballot in the election, and broken down by Election Day, Absentee (either Early or Mail-In), and Provisionals for each sub-group. Theoretically all of these data files should match exactly.
We note that there is a known issue that could potentially, but rarely, cause the number of ballots reported in the VHL to be strictly less than the number of ballots in the official results reported on the ELECT webpage. Due to the time delay between the close of the election and the update and publication of the VHL, there can be registrants that have been legitimately removed due to death, etc during that interval and their corresponding voting record is also removed when that happens. In the data presented below, this would manifest as a positive (+) discrepancy, but even so, these numbers should be relatively small.
We also again note that we made every effort to purchase the VHL dataset after all of the voter credit information was updated but before the department of elections performed their annual removal of records that had been inactive for more than 2 federal elections. Even so, if the voter was “inactive” and slated for removal, they wouldn’t be showing up in the count of ballots cast anyway. The act of casting a ballot immediately moves a voter into the “active” category.
The official turnout results are collated by locality, so we took the DAL and VHL information and accumulated their tallies to match the official turnout report breakdown. We then subtracted the DAL +/or VHL results from the official results to determine how much of a discrepancy exists between each of the datasets.
- delta EV (DAL): This is the change in the Early Vote ballot numbers as calculated by subtracting the DAL “On Machine” ballots from the official turnout report “Early Vote” tally.
- delta ByMail (DAL): This is the change in the Mail In ballot numbers as calculated by subtracting the DAL (“Pre-Processed” + “Marked”) ballots from the official turnout report “Mail In” tally.
- Net DAL: The net sum of the DAL differences in each locality
- Sum Abs Value DAL: The sum of the absolute values of the DAL differences in each locality.
- delta ED (VHL): This is the change in Election Day ballot numbers as calculated by subtracting the VHL (“Election Day” AND NOT “Provisional”) ballots from the official turnout report “Election Day” tally.
- delta Provisional (VHL): This is the change in Provisional ballot numbers as calculated by subtracting the VHL “Provisional” ballot total from the official turnout report “Provisional” tally.
- delta Early or Mail (VHL): This is the change in Early OR Mail-In ballot numbers as calculated by subtracting the VHL (“Absentee” AND NOT “Provisional”) ballots from the official turnout report (“Early Voting” + “Mail In”) tally.
- delta Provisional (VHL): This is the change in Provisional ballot numbers as calculated by subtracting the VHL “Provisional” ballots from the official turnout report “Provisional” tally.
- Net VHL: The net sum of the VHL differences for each locality
- Sum Abs Value VHL: The sum of the absolute values of the VHL differences for each locality
We present the data and results in the following EXCEL spreadsheet. Tab 1 is the ELECT website data with differences between the DAL and VHL data on the right hand side. Tab 2 is the accumulated DAL data by locality. Tab 3 is the accumulated VHL data by locality.
The screen capture of the ELECT website data from 2/4/2023 is also here: