The Day After: Local Registrars Look Back on Election Day, as Work Remains

By Amie Knowles

November 5, 2020

Registrars aren’t relaxing the day after the big election; they’re still hard at work.

ROANOKE – Andrew Cochran, Roanoke director of elections and general registrar, noted it’s not quite the calm after the storm at his office yet. There’s still plenty to do with the election after Election Day ends.

“There are a large number of post election activities. The biggest one I’m working on right now is preparing for the provisional ballot meeting. We did have almost 750 provisional ballots. So each of those has to be researched.”

Thankfully, things ran smoothly in Roanoke on Tuesday.

“We had no issues all day yesterday,” Cochran said.

Most Star City voters turned out prior to polls closing. At 7 p.m. on Nov. 3, Cochran said he wasn’t aware of any long lines.

“Most of the results came in within about an hour,” Cochran said. “The thing that took the longest was the absentee precinct.”

The registrar and approximately 10 other people quickly started processing the ballots and closed their six machines. They submitted all of the votes they received prior to 7 p.m. by the 11 p.m. deadline, except for a few remaining absentee ballots.

“I will say the caveat, the drop box ballots from the precincts were being delivered back by sheriff’s deputies,” Cochran said. “They have not been counted because they were coming late.”

Election Day in Campbell County

Kelly Martin, general registrar for Campbell County, and her team worked from before sunup to after sundown on Election Day.

Like in Roanoke, voters in Campbell County didn’t beat around the bush. The polls in Campbell County closed without long lines still waiting at 7 p.m.

“I didn’t have any issues,” Martin said.

By 11 p.m., Martin and a three-person electoral board team submitted the votes the county received.

Coming into the office on Wednesday, she still had election-based work to do, but expressed a much calmer schedule than the day before.

“Today, we have the canvass where we go over the provisional ballots, and just verify all of the numbers that we received last night,” Martin said.
“And then on Friday, they come back and count any remaining ballots that we’ve received since yesterday.”

Trouble at the polls

Unfortunately, some areas of the commonwealth had some issues on Election Day. In Virginia Beach, there’s still a question about one polling precinct’s results.

“Our results are incomplete right now. Precinct 61-Baker did not report in all off their totals. And then of course, we have until Friday for [Central Absentee Precinct], to finish with CAP,” Lewis said. “Everything I have is incomplete right now.”

Submitting the ballots

In Virginia, registrars submit every vote cast. Even if a candidate reaches a certain percentage of registered votes that other hopefuls can’t top, registrars don’t toss anything from the remaining stack.

“Every ballot will be counted,” Cochran said.

However, that doesn’t mean every single ballot submitted on Election Day received a check mark on Nov. 3 – even if the people filled their ballot out in-person at a polling precinct. That’s the case with provisional ballots in Virginia.

A person votes with a provisional ballot if there are questions concerning their voter registration or voting qualifications.

The day after the election, registrars verify, count and submit provisional ballots.

Both Cochran and Martin attended meetings on Wednesday, where they focused on provisional ballots.

“Some have to be counted,” Martin said. “The provisional votes have to be counted today during the provisional meeting.”

Virginia Beach also worked on their provisional ballots first thing Wednesday morning.

“I’m actually in the middle of processing some stuff right now,” Lewis said. “We’re actually getting ready to process the provisional ballot log.”

In Virginia, localities have until next Tuesday to certify their elections.

Amie Knowles reports for The Dogwood. She can be reached at [email protected]

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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