While legitimate, mail-in ballot applications causing concern among local voters

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RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Worries about voter fraud are circulating in Hampton Roads this week as voters in all cities are receiving mail-in ballot applications.

The mailer already has the voter’s name and address filled out and includes a postage-paid return envelope.

The form is legitimate, but at first, it caused some concern from some voters.

Chesapeake resident Elsie Williams was concerned it was a fake and contacted 10 On Your Side to verify.

“Just making sure that it was legal and that it wasn’t fake, it wasn’t a fraud,” she said.

Williams was hopeful because what it said sounded really good.

“The cover letter is telling me that I won’t have to go stand out in long lines and its voting by mail,” she added.

The letters are landing in mailboxes all across Virginia, creating confusion and lots of calls to voter registrar’s offices.

Chesapeake Registrar Mary Lynn Pinkerman, told WAVY.com she’s received quite a few questions.

“My response to them is always yes, you can use the form if you would like to vote absentee by mail but you don’t have to and if you’ve already applied to you don’t have to apply again.”

Pinkerman verifies the form is legitimate but it didn’t come from any local registrar or state office.
The Center For Voter Information is responsible. The group is nonpartisan — although it was founded by a Democratic strategist.

“In a normal day and time, it would be very helpful. Right now it is confusing. It’s making people extremely leery because they are hearing so much,” Pinkerman said.

The state board of elections concurs, telling 10 On Your Side that voters in multiple localities received prepaid return envelopes with an incorrect registrar’s office.

The Center for Voter Information admits approximately half a million applications included incorrect information. They apologized, calling it a mistake in programming.

The state assures voters that applications that arrive in the wrong locality’s office will be forwarded immediately to the correct office.

In the meantime, they encourage voters to apply on the state’s website, but confirm that if the information on a voter’s mailer is correct, they can use it and maybe save themselves some time.

Williams is not sure what she’s going to do yet but said she’s glad to have the matter cleared up.

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