Errors by Virginia election officials caused 26 voters in Newport News to vote in the wrong district during a tight state delegate race in 2017, possibly affecting the final outcome, a new Washington Post analysis of voter records has found.
Results for the state House district race between Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds ping-ponged following the election. Yancey won by 10 votes on Election Day. Then, Simonds won a recount by one vote. Finally, a three-judge panel declared the race was a tie and officials drew a name out of a bowl to determine a winner, which Yancey won.
According to the Post’s analysis of voter records, some 26 voters who resided “in a predominantly African-American precinct that heavily favored Democrats in the fall” cast their ballots in the wrong district – nearby HD-93. The voters lived in “seven apartment buildings built in 2016 in a fast-growing area outside the gates of Joint Base Eustis, an Army installation” and a majority had “voted since 2008 exclusively in one or more Democratic primaries,” according to the Post.
A map of the district boundaries shows the buildings within the 94th District being contested by Yancey and Simonds. But the local registrar “mistakenly” placed them in the 93rd District, the registrar told the Post.
State election officials would not say whether they were aware of the errors until the Post asked about the issue, and the registration errors were still “in the system” until the Post asked about it.
The Post’s analysis also found that this year state House districts for 900 addresses – affecting some 1,700 voters – have been changed.
A statewide review on the issue is underway, a spokesperson for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam told the Post.