Registrars work to replace decertified voting machines across Virginia

HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — Some registrars across the commonwealth are working to acquire new, approved equipment so voters can cast ballots in less than two months.

On Friday, the Department of Elections called for touchscreen voting booths to be decertified in Virginia. The State Board of Elections approved the request. The touchscreen method is being phased out because of concerns of hacking.

“Our No. 1 priority is to make sure that Virginia elections are carried out in a secure and fair manner,” James Alcorn, Chair of the State Board of Elections, said in a release. “The step we took [Friday] to decertify paperless voting systems is necessary to ensure the integrity of Virginia’s elections.”

Touchscreens were previously set to go away in 2020.

“It was, to me, a little bit shocking when they did it all of a sudden right before a November election because it’s right around the corner,” said Pamala Clark, general registrar for Hopewell.

Clark spent Monday on the phone trying to find a Plan B for her voters.

“I don’t know exactly what that will be yet,” she said. “But I do know it will be paper.”

The decision to ban touch-screen machines impacts 22 localities: Bath, Buchanan, Chesapeake, Colonial Heights, Culpeper, Cumberland, Emporia, Falls Church, Gloucester, Hopewell, Lee, Madison, Martinsville, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Rappahannock, Russell, Surry, Sussex, Tazewell and Washington.

The following localities are already in the process of transitioning to new equipment: Gloucester County, Lee County, Norfolk City, Portsmouth City, Poquoson City, Rappahannock County, Russell County and Tazewell County.

The City of Martinsville will be renting new voting equipment for the November General Election. The department contacted all affected localities in August about the security concerns.

Clark said she should know what Hopewell will be doing in the next week or so. It’s on the agenda for city council on Tuesday.

“We’ve been looking at different systems for the last two years,” she said.

Making the jump with little notice won’t be easy, but Clark said it is doable.

“We’ll be ready,” she said.

To read more about Virginia’s voting systems, click HERE. Election Day is November 7.