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State election officials set expectations for election night results

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:24 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:35 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia voter registrars are now required to pre-process mail-in ballots at least seven days before Election Day. Election officials say this should speed up the count on Election Night.

“We do anticipate a smoother election night reporting than we saw last year,” said Christopher Piper, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner

The head of Elections in Virginia says the state is in a better spot now versus last year’s election to get timely results out on Election Night.

Richmond and Chesterfield County are now pre-processing ballots. But those votes aren’t counted now; it happens after the polls close. This only pertains to mail-in ballots and allows election officials to make sure the ballot is valid, including a witness signature.

“That should ensure I think a more timely result. However, things do come up. It’s very important that we try to get it as right as possible on Election Night,” said Commissioner Piper.

As for Election Night reporting, the commissioner says early voting will be broken down into three categories now instead of one. Mail-in, in-person voting and post-election ballots, which need to be in by the Friday after the Election at noon, will now appear separately.

“So the people can, like, understand exactly where these numbers come from because the absentee totals, the early voting and the vote by mail, it is a huge dump of voters. So where are these voters, where are they coming from, where did they vote and how did they vote as far as early voting and vote by mail. Doing it this way will actually increase voter awareness,” said Keith Balmer, Richmond Voter Registrar/Director of Elections.

So far, more than 788,000 thousand people have voted early in this election. While state elections officials aren’t making any predictions on when we could know winners on Election Night, some local registrars are.

“The expectation is not immediate like people are thinking but probably somewhere I’d want to say depending on how many early voters we have, 8:30 maybe 9 o’clock they may see the early voting totals posted,” said Constance Hargrove, Chesterfield County Voter Registrar.

Election officials say they’ve seen no threats to voting systems at this point. The commissioner also pointed out that since 2017, voting machines being used in the state aren’t able to connect to the internet.

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