Fairfax Co. races to process thousands of previously missing voter registrations

In an issue that’s happening statewide, including in Fairfax County, election officials in Virginia received thousands of previously missing voter registrations originating from the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s the second time something like this has happened in the commonwealth this month.

Over the weekend and on Monday, Fairfax County election officials got more than 11,000 missing voter registrations. These previously unaccounted applications are in addition to another 11,789 registrations that were sent to Fairfax County on Oct. 5.

Virginia voters can check their registration status on the state’s online portal.

Eric Spicer, director and general registrar for the Fairfax Office of Elections, said the latest batch of missing registrations started coming in over the weekend.

“About 4 p.m. on Saturday, we got 300. Then we got a couple thousand more on Sunday,” he said. “This morning, we got the 11,000.”

The problem is not just local. In this latest release, around 149,000 previously unaccounted registrations have been forwarded to 133 general registrars statewide. Each of those jurisdictions will be rushing to process and validate them all by Election Day.

For those who may be affected by missing registrations, Virginia does offer same-day voter registration, which allows you to register on site at any early voting location, or your polling place on Election Day and vote a provisional ballot.

Learn more about Virginia’s same day registration here.

For Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles typically sends acquired voter registrations to the state Board of Elections (ELECT), which then send those registrations to their appropriate jurisdictions, such as Fairfax County.

In a news statement on Monday, the Virginia Department of Elections (ELECT) said it identified “additional transactions that did not previously populate to the online voter registration hopper for processing by local general registrars.”

Those transactions included address updates, new registrations, and other changes resulting from
visits to the department of motor vehicles between May and September 2022, according to ELECT.

In a statement Monday, ELECT said the latest round of missing registrations were discovered after “local officials, ELECT’s IT professionals were able to scour the election system data to
identify the additional transactions for processing.”

Officials with ELECT did not disclose what kind of error in the computer system led to some 250,000 voter registrations being lost or unprocessed so far in Virginia.

Some say the problems with this election cycle are a “scandal” and place the blame on Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration.

“Here we are again,” said Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chair Bryan Graham in a news release. “The flailing Youngkin Administration has once again proven that they either don’t know what they’re doing or are willfully neglecting their duties to the people of the Commonwealth.”

“We are confident that our Fairfax County Registrar can handle the task,” added Graham, “but I worry that we don’t know if this is the end of ELECT’s malfeasance.”

ELECT did not say whether the latest batch of missing registrations will be the last, or whether it is possible there are even more in limbo.

“That’s what will keep me up at night for the rest of the week. We thought it was over with after Oct. 5,” Spicer said. “We’re preparing for the worst. And we’re telling voters if there are any additional problems, they’ll have the opportunity to vote with same-day registration, and to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day.”

Either way, Spicer anticipates that it will be a dash to the finish.

“Whatever it takes,” he said. “We have to be here till midnight, or anything that we have to do, we will get these 11,000 processed, so people can vote.”

Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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