Loudoun County’s elections office staff has concluded its work on the recent general election with a record turnout of voters.
Loudoun had nearly 80 percent turnout out of the 282,263 registered voters, which is a 4 percent increase from 2016.
Election officials wrapped up their work early last week and shared their impressions. Here are some notes from the debrief with the Times-Mirror.
Early voting made for a smooth process
More than 50 percent of the 282,263 registered voters voted by Election Day as a result of early voting and mail-in ballots. The effort made for shorter lines at the precincts on Nov. 3.
“It wasn’t like a true presidential election, so to speak, on Election Day, and we could actually breathe,” said Judy Brown, general registrar in the Loudoun County Office of Elections. “There have been presidential elections where as soon as the phone receiver hits the button — and the button starts to go in — the phone rings again. And we did not have a lot of that.”
Richard Keech, deputy registrar, also said the day was pretty calm. He compared the day to a lower turnout election based on the workload.
One delay occurred between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. when about 400 absentee ballots were dropped off, Keech said.
“We thought we were done with the mail, and then a bunch popped up, which we certainly received by the deadline, so we had to count them,” Keech said.
Election results were uploaded by 9:30 p.m., and an hour later everything was locked up and secured, Keech said, which is faster than usual. Typically, staff leaves the office during the early morning after elections.
Auditing continues after Election Day
Election officials continued to collect, verify and add ballots to the voter registration system after Election Day, as allowed by law. They also collected ballots sent by residents living overseas or in the military.
Brown said among those were 956 provisional ballots, which provide a way for people to vote whose voter registration or qualifications to vote are in question.
She said 138 provisional ballots were not included in the final count. Among the reasons why were because those casting ballots were not registered voters or had already cast ballots early.
Brown said a stack of ballots also came in the mail a week after the election. Those will not be counted because they came past the Friday afternoon deadline (three days after the election). Brown said ballots received after the deadline would be recorded in the voter registration system as being received late.
Keech said staff made sure everything was done by the book.
“I know that’s a big thing that keeps coming up in the media about, ‘They’re finding votes, they are adding votes, they’re doing this.’ But no, that’s not what’s happening,” Keech said. “We’re double-checking everything to make sure everything is in order. The only votes we’re still counting are the ones that were received legally.”
During the election process, Loudoun County election officials also found ballots for other Virginia localities and states in their mail collection and drop boxes. Brown said staff forwarded ballots to localities such as Fairfax, Prince William and Warren counties in Virginia and states such as New York, New Jersey, Texas and Kentucky.