Paper ballots make a return across Virginia

Nov. 7, 2017. (WAVY/Walter Hildebrand)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Voters in Virginia Tuesday who were used to electronic voting were presented with paper ballots this election.

The Virginia Board of Elections blocked the use of computerized voting machines this year over concerns that the equipment can be hacked. Originally the deadline to make the change was 2020, but in September, the board voted to immediately decertify paperless voting equipment across the Commonwealth.

Nov. 7, 2017. (WAVY/Walter Hildebrand)

Photos: Election Day in Hampton Roads

Some localities are leasing the paper ballot equipment for the Nov. 7 elections, others already purchased it, at a hefty price. Norfolk spent more than $1 million for its new system. Chesapeake’s equipment cost taxpayers more than $738,000.

At a voting precinct at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, voters said they had no issues going back to pen and paper.

“It goes back to the old days, you know, we’ve been voting a long time, so we remember when they didn’t have anything but paper ballots,” said voter Winston Whitehurst.

Voter Kevin Rafferty said he enjoyed the switch.

“It works. I understand. At least if we’re having to spend some time on it, we’re the only ones in control, perhaps is the idea. Nobody else hacking on in I guess is their theory so hopefully it’s safe,” he said.

Poll workers there estimated more than 1400 voters registered at the precinct had cast ballots by 5:30 p.m.

The following localities informed the Virginia Department of Elections that they will be using new equipment in the 2017 November General Election: Chesapeake, Gloucester, Lee, Martinsville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Poquoson, Rappahannock, Russell, Surry and Tazewell.

10 On Your Side has heard from several voters in cities using the new paper ballot system, concerned that their vote won’t count, because they did not follow the directions to completely fill in the box next to their candidate. Some say they used a checkmark or ‘x’ instead.

10 On Your Side reached out to the Registrar’s Office, who said the machines that read the ballots are very sensitive and assured us the marks will be picked up and the vote will count.