90% of Richmond Registar’s Office Quarantined After COVID-19 Outbreak

Richmond Registar's Office Hit by COVID-19

RIchmond Registar Kirk Showalter speaks at a Monday press conference about the COVID-19 outbreak in her office. Dogwood photo by Brian Carlton.

By Brian Carlton

November 9, 2020

Provisional ballot investigations delayed as registrar contacts Virginia Dept. of Elections for help.

RICHMOND-The Richmond Registrar’s Office is operating with a four person staff this week, thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak. Ninety percent of the office staff, as well as Mayor Stoney and his team are all under quarantine until Nov. 17 after coming into contact with some infected workers. 

Speaking at a Monday afternoon press conference, Richmond Registrar Kirk Showalter said the reduced staff means it will take extra time to certify election results. 

“We expect the election figures from Tuesday will be finalized by tomorrow,” Showalter said. “We do not expect to be able to complete the provisional ballot meeting by tomorrow. I have been in contact with the Virginia Department of Elections and they will be assisting my office on researching those since my staff are not available to do that. We will have the board meeting as quickly as we can after we get those thoroughly researched.” 

Showalter asked people to be patient, as it will take a little time to work through those. She hopes to have the 975 provisional ballots researched by the end of the week. Poll workers give out provisional ballots anytime there are questions about a voter’s eligibility. Maybe their name doesn’t show up correctly on the roll, they don’t have any identification or can’t give the correct address. Workers set those aside from the rest of the ballots until the registrar’s staff verifies that the person is allowed to vote in this election. 

Showalter said the first case involved a person in the office on Election Day. Then they found out about a positive test on Friday. In both cases, staff asked the individual and anyone who worked closely with them to leave the building. 

The third positive case happened earlier on Monday. That brought the total in quarantine to 90%. 

Outbreak Reaches Mayor’s Office

Showalter said voters who came in for the last day of early voting should be fine. However, anyone who came into the registrar’s office last week needs to get tested. As far as city staff, the outbreak didn’t just hit the registrar’s office. A member of Mayor Levar Stoney’s campaign team also tested positive on Monday. 

“A member of my campaign team has tested positive for COVID-19 after interacting with the staff of the Registrar’s Office last week,” Stoney said in a tweet. “Based on guidance from the Richmond Health Department and pursuant to Richmond employee protocol, my office and I will be isolating for the time being.”

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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