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Issue in Reston Precinct Changes Senate Vote Total

by Karen Goff — November 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm 25 Comments

"I voted" sticker. (Photo via Flickr/vox efx)Election canvassers from both parties have been combing through Fairfax County voter records all day Wednesday, where they found one issue so far: a problem with the tally in the Cameron Glen precinct, which led to a more than 100-vote flip in Republican candidate Ed Gillespie’s favor, said Brian Schoeneman, 
Secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board.

The original Cameron Glen tally was Gillespie 514, Mark Warner 770 and Libertarian Robert Sarvis,29. Schoeneman said there was a counting error, and Warner’s total should have been 660.

Officials are counting the votes because the election for U.S. Senate is still so close. At last count, incumbent Democrat Warner had 49.10 percent and challenger Ed Gillespie had 48.37 percent.

Warner still leads by 53,ooo votes in Fairfax County, the commonwealth’s most populous  jurisdiction. The Associated Press said Wednesday afternoon Warner leads by 13,000 votes overall.

Still, Warner made a victory speech at his campaign headquarters late Tuesday.

“I want to congratulate Ed Gillespie,” Warner said. “He ran a hard fought campaign. I’ve known what its meant to come up a little bit short against a Warner a few years back. But I wish him and I wish his family well. I know he will stay involved in Virginia and national politics.”

The canvass is expected to go on until Friday.

Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee Chair, has not conceded the race.

“It’s a testament to our volunteers and their incredible efforts that we were outspent two-to-one and yet the most recent unofficial tally has us separated by less than a percentage point out of more than 2 million votes cast,” Gillespie said in a statement. “Now we owe it to the voters of Virginia to respect the canvassing process that is underway to get an official result. We will be watching the results closely so that we can ensure Virginians have confidence in the accuracy of the results.

“It was an honor to run, and I will respect the decision reached by Virginia’s voters.”

A recount could happen if the trailing candidate requests it. If the margin of votes is less than half a percent of the total vote, the candidate can appeal to the State Board of Elections to request a recount, which the government will finance. If the margin is greater than 0.5 percent but less than one percent of total vote, the candidate may also request a recount, but has to pay for himself.

  • Paul

    I voted at this precinct. I don’t understand how there could be a counting error, didn’t I feed my ballot into a electronic scanner? The attendant said it counted automatically. Over 100 seems like a big difference.

    • George

      I agree, there is clearly something fishy going on here. The ballots were fed into a scanner, were they counted at that point? If not, how was counting done and who did it? We definitely need a more detailed explanation for this screw up.

      • John Farrell

        The votes are reported out on a tape. Unfortunately the font programmed into the machine is very small and easily misread.

        When there are multiple machines in a precinct, those tapes must be added and posted on a report. This provides an opportunity for addition errors and transposition errors by election officers whose average age is 73.

        • Dave…

          Aren’t there supposed to be multiple people adding, checking, re-checking and providing verification of the results? Its a shame we still havent figured this out.

          • John Farrell

            Yes, there are multiple people looking at it in the precinct and then a second set of people look at it every years on the days following the election to catch any errors.

            That process called the “canvass” in Virginia finished today in Fairfax.

            It is hoped that the adjudication of the provisional ballots will conclude tomorrow and the results certified tomorrow night or Saturday morning.

  • Tara

    Makes you wonder about other precincts too. I voted here too.

  • Joyce

    How many millions did Fairfax spend to prevent this bs? Is it the Tea Party volunteers hiding ballots again?

    • Ron

      Wow, that would be a huge concern. But when I voted, I fed my ballot directly into a machine. Could you please write a detailed explanation of the method a volunteer would use to hide ballots? The most curious part is that you used the word “again” in your comment. Do you have evidence that Tea Party volunteers have hidden ballots in previous elections? If so, the real question is why are you writing about his in a blog and not submitting your evidence to the FBI?

    • Dave…

      Yes, I’m sure “tea party” volunteers hid ballots that were for the person they wanted to win. The article doesn’t mention anything about “missing” votes re-appearing. The comments from the libs in this article defy logic. The more likely explanation would be that either warner sympathizers padded/changed votes, or that multiple people have trouble with addition.

  • NothingNew

    Republican dirty tricks existed long before Watergate and continue to the present day as seen in this most recent example.

    • Dave…

      Did you read the article? The “error” benefited warner, not the republican candidate.

    • Ha

      As did Democrat dirty tricks, of which Warner’s transparent vote-manufacturing is only a recent local example.

  • John Farrell

    It was a simple math mistake by the volunteers who had been awake and on duty since 4 am.

    There was also a typo on the report from Groveton precinct which when corrected reduced Gillespie’s total by 900 votes.

    And a mistake at Pioneer’s report that reduced Warner’s total by 200 votes.

    With 300,000 votes cast among 242 precincts, these kinds of corrections are frequent and unremarkable.

    • Adrian Havill

      Well, John, I think you should define “volunteer.” Those who work at the polling precincts receive between $175 and $250 a day. It’s a long day indeed, but also a good way to augment a pension or a monthly SS check, which is why the great majority of workers there are retirees.

      • Cluster Tycoon

        @Adrian. The vast majority of volunteers receive $175, only the chief and the assistant chief earn $250 on election day. However, they work the day prior and they also spend a lot of time preparing. Its not a trivial task being an (assistant) chief because there is a lot of paper work involved, and rigid procedures involving opening and closing the stations.

        Anyone uncomfortable with how elections work, and/or having suspicions about the voting process should feel compelled to become an election officer so they can experience first hand how an election is run. Granted most people are old, but many of them have years of experience and are doing a great job!

        If you have doubts, help out. FFX County needs a lot more people, for sure. In fact, Dec-23-2014 may be another election – related to the Barbara Comstock victory. So don’t complain, get ready….

        • Adrian Havill

          Still, $175 a day is a great addition to your income if all you have is a pension. More than twice as much as a Wal-Mart worker gets per hour as a part timer. And don’t tell me to help out as I’ve actually volunteered and done this work on election day, both as a paid worker for the County and as an unpaid polling place worker for a political party.

          • John Farrell

            So then you should know none of the retired folks do it for the money

            but the increase in pay has made it attractive to college kids

          • Adrian Havill

            The only thing attractive to college kids is the free pizza they often order for the workers after the polls close. Am scratching my head wondering if I ever saw a “college kid” in the polling places I worked. (Or the polling places I was in a few days ago.) If you are trying to say that there are retirees that would work–and it is work– for free, you need to give me some names. And–unless the hours have changed–it is not a 16-hour day, but more like twelve. A 16-hour day for people in their late 70s would necessitate an ambulance outside.

          • rcepuch

            No, it’s not 12 hours. Report at 5 a.m. and leave only when everything is done – typically at least 9 p.m. and sometimes later. That’s 16 hours. And I have no idea what “free pizza” you’re talking about. Any food consumed by poll workers is purchased by poll workers.

          • Adrian Havill

            Maybe, the chief didn’t like you as much. Our’s always ordered from Domino’s at eight.

          • John Farrell

            Out of his own pocket.

            A very good guy

            And the exception

      • Cluster Tycoon

        You make it seem like $175 is a windfall earnings. Basically you’re working a 16-hour day to help facilitate the process. Its just recently that they bumped up the pay since before it was just a 100. Maybe you should direct your complaints to the candidates and how much they spend on their campaigns. Considering that the public only contributes 0.1% to any of their campaigns – most contributions are corporate – the real problem comes down to special interests. Maybe start there…

    • warbucs

      Dear John, the current data for GROVETON indicates that Warner received 473 votes, Gillespie got 159 votes. 650 voters showed up at the Groveton polling place. Groveton is a very small precinct. 11/06/14. 900 votes?? NOT Possible!

      • John Farrell

        that’s why the mistake was easy to catch.

        And we learned today was caught Tuesday night.

        So the number for Groveton posted by the FFX Elections Office is correct.

  • TBird73

    Sounds like a convenient ploy to justify demanding a recount. Especially when the only error being reported by the press was one in Gillespie’s favor. As if it were the only error to occur. Nothing like a sore loser promoting absurd conspiracies and the paid for press willing to go along.

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