RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The technology that underpins Virginia’s election system has had problems for years but it still hasn’t been replaced. 

The latest symptom of the aging IT system came earlier this month. The glitch slowed down the delivery of 107,000 records from the Department of Motor Vehicles, giving local registrars a daunting workload at the last minute.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Governor Glenn Youngkin pointed the finger at past leaders for failing to fix Virginia’s Election and Registration Information System (VERIS). The system is used to maintain the state’s list of voters, among other critical functions.

“We inherited a system from the previous administration that was supposed to be decommissioned and replaced and wasn’t,” Youngkin said. “There were things that were broken in the system that unfortunately weren’t all caught.” 

A 2018 report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission said VERIS “has had challenges since its inception” and the system is “not sufficiently functional or reliable.” The audit said it was modeled after another state’s voter registration system and has been used in Virginia since 2007.

The report notes, during the 2014 election, the results reporting function was inoperable due to a high volume of users. In October 2016, up against the voter registration deadline, a surge of online applications caused the system to crash, leading to a lawsuit. 

At the time of publication, the JLARC report said the state’s plan was to rebuild, rather than fully replace the system. Auditors urged decision-makers to reconsider based on their findings. 

Former Election Commissioner Chris Piper, who served under former Governor Ralph Northam, says the money for the $30 million project wasn’t at their disposal until July 1, 2022, roughly six months before the end of Northam’s term.  

In an interview on Friday, Oct. 14, Piper said it’s unfair to “throw the previous administration under the bus when things go wrong.” 

“To think that we could decommission and replace a voter registration database in that quick amount of time is just unthinkable,” Piper said. “A huge government IT project such as this doesn’t move very quickly. It is a very deliberative process. There is a lot of red tape.” 

Delegate Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax) said, when Governor Youngkin replaced Piper and appointed a new commissioner, it slowed down the project at a key part in the procurement process. Piper declined to comment on that. 

“Should it have been done sooner, maybe, but the current Governor has the money and hasn’t spent a dime,” Sickles said. “We have received no reports. We’re totally out of the loop.” 

Piper said, if he had remained in office, he planned to roll out the new system alongside the old one in 2023.

Susan Beals, Virginia’s new election commissioner, has repeatedly declined interview requests on this topic. 

In an interview last month, Beals said they were engaged in negotiations on replacing VERIS. She said she didn’t know when the project would be complete. She wasn’t sure if it would be ready in 2023.

On Wednesday, Youngkin suggested it would be ready next year.

“We’re pressing forward with that aggressively to get that in place,” Youngkin said.