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The battle between misinformation and election officials in Buckingham County

In this photo taken Nov. 5, 2013, Steve Maskell of McLean, Va., right, votes in an election.
Jacquelyn Martin
In this photo taken Nov. 5, 2013, Steve Maskell of McLean, Va., right, votes in an election.

When the entire staff at the Buckingham County Registrar's office resigned after repeatedly being accused of incompetence and even criminal mismanagement of the electoral process, the county drew national attention from those who say rampant misinformation may cause even more damage heading into a presidential election year.

Buckingham County provided Virginia's most extreme example – to date – of what can happen when election workers are overwhelmed by accusations of fraud. Lauren Coletta is senior advisor in Virginia for Common Cause. She says the immediate effect is that people with little or no elections experience find themselves trying to do a very demanding and very important job.

“You had a registrar who was there for 29 years and then this next person was there since 2019, I believe, so she was getting her stride and now you've lost the staff," Coletta explains. "So, this is a consequence of the disinformation that is going on.”

But even after all this time, many people don't see it as disinformation, something that Coletta finds puzzling.

“Given all the court cases at the federal level, and in this particular case in Buckingham County; the Attorney General investigated, said there was nothing," Coletta says. "How many times does something have to be disproven before people catch on that they're being lied to?”

Meanwhile in Buckingham County, the search is on for a new staff with the presidential primary season less than a year away.

Fred Echols is a producer/reporter for Radio IQ.