Va. elections website let hundreds of voters request mail-in ballots after deadline, but they won’t get them

Hundreds of voters in Fairfax County expecting a mail-in ballot won’t get it in time. That’s because the Virginia Department of Elections website is still allowing voters to request a mail-in ballot well past the deadline.

At last count, 853 voters in Fairfax County requested they be sent a mail-in ballot after the deadline passed on 5 p.m. last Friday, elections Director Gary Scott said.

It’s a statewide issue that Scott said other registrars are concerned about. He said the state did not turn off the citizen portal that allows registered voters to request ballots for the next election.

After the deadline passed to get a mail-in ballot for the general election on Nov. 3, voters were unknowingly requesting ballots for the election that follows it.


“That, unfortunately, has led people to believe that they’re actually going to get a ballot for this election,” Scott said. “We’re actually going to have to deny those applications.”

Virginia law requires that voters have the option to apply for an absentee ballot up to a year in advance of any election and, therefore, the option to apply for an absentee ballot for future elections is still live on the Virginia Department of Elections site.

“We remind all voters that the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot was 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23. Anyone who wishes to vote prior to Election Day must now vote in person at the voter registration office or, if applicable, a satellite office,” said Andrea Gaines with the Virginia Department of Elections.

Scott’s office will send out letters to each voter whose request is denied so they know to cast their vote in another way. But, because the state website is still live, it’s likely his office will continue receiving requests for mail-in ballots that don’t apply to this election.

“I’m concerned that there is confusion out there, and there’s also an extra burden on my staff because, ordinarily, if the situation had been shut down, we wouldn’t have be generating over 800 letters that have to go out to the public,” Scott said.

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Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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