Many absentee ballots missing witness signatures across Virginia

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - As absentee ballots pour in across the state ahead of Election Day, the Virginia Department of Elections has received a number of ballots missing a witness signature. Officials are reminding absentee voters to make sure they have one.

Official from the Rockingham County Registrar’s Office say they have already seen around 25 instances of this in ballots they’ve received.

When someone submits a ballot missing a signature, the registrar’s office is required to reach out to the voter by phone, email or letter within three days to give them a chance to correct the mistake.

“In a lot of those we’ve had to reissue the ballot so even with that being done only one ballot is gonna count, so it’s not like that person has two ballots out there, when we reissue it cancels the original,” said Rockingham County Registrar Lisa Gooden.

If a ballot is missing a signature and is not corrected ahead of the voting deadline, it will not be counted.

“We’ve been pretty good with numbers as far as being able to cure there may be a few out there but we make every effort we can to try and make sure that voter’s ballot will count,” said Gooden.

A witness for an absentee ballot has to watch the voter open the ballot and confirm there is one ballot inside the envelope. They are not required to watch the voter mark the ballot.

Gooden says early voting has gone relatively smoothly so far, but every now and then there are problems related to people changing addresses.

“Probably the main challenge for us has been a few of the ballots being undeliverable and that could be because the person is temporarily away or maybe there’s been an address change since they originally filed to receive a ballot by mail,” said Gooden. “Even so, we take every measure to contact the voter by any means to let them know what’s going on.”

Gooden says the record amounts of early voting in the 2020 election has helped prepare her office to handle things smoothly this year.

“We’ve been through the hectic part of 2020, so certainly this election year has been busy but not overwhelming, we saw 13,000 voters last fall in person and we’ve seen under 2,000 for this election so we’re prepared for it,” she said.

So far Rockingham County has totaled 3,963 early votes, both in person and absentee, there are over 55,000 registered voters in the county.

In Harrisonburg there have been 1,421 total early votes, and there are 25,756 registered voters in the Friendly City.

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