Hundreds of mail-in ballots haven’t returned, Isle of Wight registrar says
Published 2:14 pm Monday, November 6, 2023
Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 7 and received by local registrars no later than noon this Friday to be counted, but hundreds mailed to Isle of Wight County voters still haven’t been returned.
Betterton says she’s been fielding calls from voters asking to verify the status of ballots they completed and mailed two or more weeks ago.
“We still have not received them,” Betterton said.
Since the start of early voting on Sept. 22 Betterton has mailed 1,895 absentee ballots, accounting for 6% of the county’s 31,392 registered voters, to residents who requested them.
Only 1,221, or 64%, had been mailed back to Betterton’s office as of Nov. 4, leaving 652 unaccounted for. She’s blaming the Isle of Wight Post Office, located across the street from the county’s government complex, for the delays.
“Some days they open late, some days not at all,” Betterton said. “We have had many days with no mail at all, which is unheard of with this many ballots outstanding.”
Representatives from the Postal Service and the Isle of Wight Post Office did not immediately respond to The Smithfield Times’ requests for comments.
The delays have affected Isle of Wight more than neighboring Surry County. Surry Registrar Sharná White said of the 384 absentee ballots she’s mailed to residents, accounting for 6.8% of the county’s 5,646 registered voters, 325 ballots, or 85%, had been mailed back to her office as of Nov. 6, leaving 59 ballots, or 15%, unaccounted for.
How to ensure your ballot is counted
Voters who cast a ballot by mail can track its status using the Ballot Scout website at https://app.ballotscout.org/virginia/search/state. Unless the affected voters cast in-person provisional ballots on election day, there’s a risk that “hundreds of votes will not be counted,” Betterton said.
Voters can cast a provisional ballot by going to their assigned precincts, which are listed on their voter registration cards. Voters can also find their districts by going to https://tinyurl.com/mx2htkrp and their polling places at https://www.co.isle-of-wight.va.us/our_services/voter_registration/polling_places_in_isle_of_wight_county.php.
“On Wednesday, at the canvass, we will check to see if their ballot was received,” Betterton said. “If not, the provisional will count. If we receive their ballot afterwards, we will reject it. Either way, only one ballot will be counted.”
Those who requested an absentee ballot but never received one also have the option of casting a provisional ballot in person. Those who received an absentee ballot but never filled it out can turn it in to the Registrar’s Office or to the election chief at their precinct and vote a normal ballot in person.