The EPEC staff monitors the Virginia Daily Absentee List for unexpected values. We essentially “audit” the electoral process in Virginia during an election cycle. We are currently monitoring the 2022 General Election.
One of the areas of interest is the DAL – Daily Absentee List. It shows the current status of absentee voting in Virginia – by mail in ballot and early voting (absentee in person).
In Virginia, Absentee In-Person Early Voting started on Friday, September 23. Our initial DAL file was saved on Saturday, September 24, at 9 PM.
The official Ballot Status in the DAL at 9 PM was:
Federal Worker Absentee Ballot (FWAB) 1
On Machine: 8,397
Not Issued: 5,766
Grand Total: 319,939
Nearly 19,327 ballots – 6 % of those requested, were in a state which would not be counted if the election vote counting period were over today – Not Issued, Unmarked, or Deleted. There was also 1 ballot in a Pre-Processed Ballot Status state. The magnitude of ballots in one of these “states” is surprising but not alarming.
It appears Not Issued means there is either a backlog in mailing out ballots or an issue with voter registration – legal name, address of record in the registration database, citizenship, etc. Unless the backlog or issue is resolved, the voter will be denied a ballot.
Unmarked is associated with mail-in Absentee Ballots. A Marked ballot is moved to an Unmarked status if an election official notices an error with the associated absentee ballot documents such as a name or address error, missing signature, or missing signature verification. Election officers are required to contact voters if their ballot requires a cure – correction to the information accompanying the ballot. If the cure is not provided, the ballot will not be counted. Some voters choose to have a new ballot mailed to them if a cure is required, in which case a ballot in the Unmarked state will be spoiled and marked Deleted in the system. This is one of the reasons we see voters having one or more Deleted ballots associated with them in the DAL files.
Deleted ballots are not supposed to be processed (counted). We believe these are officially referred to as “spoiled ballots. The process to keep these separate from countable ballots is an interest area for election integrity observers. The most common reason for ballots to get Deleted (spoiled) is voter error. Examples: mistake when filling out a ballot in person resulting in the first ballot being spoiled and a new ballot issued, or a voter surrendering an absentee ballot to vote in person or receive a new one via the mail.
More accurate voter registration records MAY reduce the volume of initial Not Issued and Deleted ballots. Our post-election observations and recommendations will address this issue. Our initial hypothesis – changes in residency, relocation within Localities, ineligible voters requesting ballots, and voters passing away probably account for most of the unexpectedly large values of ballots in an “at risk” state.