RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An unknown number of voter registration applications submitted through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles need to be processed after “intermittent network issues” at the Department of Elections caused a delay and led to a backlog.
Local election administrators are working to process the applications — some of which have been delayed since last spring — to ensure voter rolls are updated and those who filed applications are aware of their polling places and precincts.
The Virginia Department of Elections gave local election registrars 107,000 DMV transactions, which include new registrations, address updates and other changes, after realizing last week there was an issue processing the applications.
The department said Virginia Elections Commissioner Susan Beals was not available for an interview on Wednesday, but in a statement she said the issue was resolved and that all affected registrations had been sent “for processing to ensure voters can be appropriately registered to vote.”
“No voter registration data was lost, but the issue will cause an increase in processing voter registration applications at the local level,” Beals said. “The total number of new registrations that were delayed will not be determined until local registrars finish processing them.”
A DMV spokesperson directed 8News to the Department of Elections, saying the issue “occurred on their end of the system.”
With early voting for the midterms already underway in Virginia and redistricting shifting voters to different congressional districts, local registrars said their offices will be working overtime to ensure the applications are processed and people are notified of what’s on their ballot.
The backlog of applications, first reported by the Virginia Public Access Project, won’t impact voters, local registrars told 8News, but will increase the workloads of election chiefs and their offices during an already busy time.
“We now have 4,100 applications we have to process,” Keith Balmer, Richmond’s elections director, told 8News. “It will affect my staff more than voters because we now have to work longer hours to finish the job.”
While Balmer said he would have preferred for the process to be done before early voting started in Virginia, he told 8News the delay won’t keep affected voters from casting their ballot before Election Day.
Balmer said even if someone’s name is not on the voter rolls by the time they come into vote early, poll workers can access the information.
Hanover County General Registrar Teresa Smithson said “apparently a breakdown between” the Department of Elections and DMV led to the delay, but that the issue was caught quick enough so voters won’t be impacted.
She said her office has to process an excess of 1,300 registration applications, some that go as far back as May, but that there were several duplications.
“There will be longer hours, maybe working weekends, but we’ll get it done,” Smithson told 8News.
Chesterfield County General Registrar Missa Vera told 8News it’s difficult to determine how many applications need to be processed, but said her office has a little over 5,000, “some of which may be duplicates.”
In Henrico County, General Registrar Mark Coakley said the delay led to an additional 4,493 registration applications.
“We want to clear it up as quickly as possible for our voters. This will require working nights and weekends since early absentee voting is happening,” Coakley told 8News. “Voters need to know their districts and polling place so they can be informed and have no confusion about their ballot.”
It’s unclear how many applications need to be processed, but VPAP estimates at least 40,000 were impacted.
Virginians can review their voter registration status online.