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Stafford gets thrust into the spotlight as TV crews cover close election results

Leaves as votes

The exceptionally close margin in Stafford, along with allegations of misconduct on the part of our local registrar, has brought Washington area TV crews to our neck of the woods. Both Channel 4 and Channel 9 sent crews to cover the story (click the links for video.)

Neither news story brought any real new information to the table for those who have been following the races. The Channel 9 reporter stated that the 55 uncounted absentee ballots, that were categorized as "military ballots," were left in a post office box on election day and were not picked up by the registrar's staff in a timely manner. This delay on the part of the staff and not the mail is what allegedly caused the ballots to go uncounted. This is news to me and directly contradicts what I was told by the registrar himself. It's unclear where the reporters got this information since both acknowledged being unable to reach Registrar Riddlemoser for their stories.

Joshua Cole, the Democrat in the HD 28 race, seems to be focused on attempting to get these ballots counted according to his statements during an interview with Channel 4. Another grave concern I would have if I were Cole is news reported in the Free Lance Star regarding a mishandling of ballots in Fredericksburg. One of the precincts in the election was what is called a "split precinct." This means that some people who vote there live in HD 28 while others live in HD 88. Accordingly, there are 2 sets of ballots in the building at one time which can lead to confusion on the part of poll workers. If poll workers are not properly trained or if the polling place itself is not well organized, poll workers could easily give the wrong ballot to a voter with the incorrect HD race. Unfortunately, there is no way to go back into the database to determine which ballot was handed to any voter, therefore it may be impossible to determine if any voter got the wrong ballot.

It's interesting to me that neither story focused on the over 1100 absentee ballots allegedly thrown out by the Stafford Registrar, nor did Cole or Thomas discuss them during their interviews. As I said in a previous article, this was said to be a "blatant fabrication" by the registrar and I have not seen or heard anything to substantiate the allegation. Of course, BTW will continue to monitor the story and if any abuse of power or misconduct by the part of the registrar's office comes to light, you can bet I will report on it.