Vote counts in 2020 election found to be inaccurate
Prince William County, Virginia, has acknowledged that it miscalculated the vote totals in President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory over former President Donald Trump. The county, known for its Democratic leanings, underreported Biden’s vote count by 1,648 votes and overreported Trump’s count by 2,327 votes. Although the mistakes did not significantly impact the outcome of the race, they have raised concerns about the accuracy of the electoral process.
Mistakes extended to other races as well
The inaccuracies in the vote counts were not limited to the presidential race. Similar errors were also identified in the races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, although the margins were smaller. Democrat Mark Warner was shorted by 1,589 votes in the Senate race, while Republican Daniel Gade was shorted by 107 votes. In the House race, Republican Robert Wittman was underreported by 293 votes. Despite these discrepancies, all the candidates still emerged as winners in their respective races.
Registrar attributes mistakes to lack of planning and human error
Eric Olsen, the current registrar of Prince William County, explained that the mistakes were not intentional and did not favor any particular party or candidate. He attributed them to inadequate planning, a challenging election environment, and human error. Olsen emphasized that the errors did not significantly impact the final results, as Biden won Virginia by a considerable margin and Prince William County by over 60,000 votes.
Details emerge after dropped charges against former registrar
The details of the voting errors were released on Thursday, following the dismissal of charges against the county’s former registrar, who was initially charged with corrupt conduct, making false statements, and neglect of duty. The reasons for dropping the charges were not fully explained, and the alleged misconduct lacked specific details in court records. It was only recently revealed which candidates were affected by the mistakes.
Problems with split precincts and validation process
According to Olsen, most of the errors occurred in “split precincts,” where one precinct encompasses two different congressional districts. The county’s voting system did not account for this division, unlike the state’s system. As a result, mistakes were made while trying to align the county data with the state requirements. Additionally, shortcomings in the county’s validation process contributed to the inaccuracies. For example, identical presidential votes were mistakenly entered for two precincts, leading to the discovery of the errors.
Prosecution seen as a response to election concerns
The case against the former registrar was the only criminal prosecution initiated by a special Election Integrity Unit formed in 2022 by Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares. The unit was established in response to concerns raised by Virginians regarding the integrity of elections. However, critics, including the NAACP, argue that the unit was created to appease election deniers. The former registrar’s attorney maintains that his client was wrongly blamed for the incorrect numbers and that the Electoral Board, which certified the election results, should shoulder responsibility.
Steps taken to prevent future errors
The recent redistricting in Virginia has significantly reduced the number of split precincts that previously complicated the voting process in Prince William County. The county’s elections official, Olsen, assures the public that new procedures and systems are now in place to prevent similar errors from occurring in the future. He emphasizes that while mistakes are regrettable, they do not reflect a deliberate attempt to undermine the integrity of the electoral process. The investigation into the matter concluded with this understanding.