Elections Board gets Update on Postmarks, Other Issues

Oct 20, 2020

The state Board of Elections approved a regulation Tuesday that will count ballots with a missing or illegible postmark, as long as the ballots were received by noon on the Friday after Election Day.

The new regulation is meant to address return envelopes that were pre-paid using bulk mail rates. Sometimes bulk mail doesn’t include a postmark.

Daniel Davenport, a policy analyst with the Department of Elections made a presentation to the board outlining election integrity safeguards. He said if a postmark is missing or illegible the registrar would review intelligent mail barcodes on envelopes used to mail ballots.  "If the information in the intelligent mail barcode shows that the ballot was mailed after the close of polls, the ballot will be rendered invalid,” he noted.

Registrars will also review the sworn oath signed by voters on envelope B, which contains completed ballots. Signatures dated on or before election will not be rendered invalid. 

The Public Interest Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit  challenging the regulation change in early October. The conservative group filed it on the behalf of an electoral official in Frederick County. A Republican official from Winchester is also a plaintiff in the case.

A hearing is scheduled for next week, but on Monday, a Pennsylvania ruling to allow a process similar to Virginia’s was affirmed by an equally divided U.S. Supreme Court.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Chris Piper also reported on voting totals so far. 1.44 million people have voted early in person or by mail so far.

Friday is the last day to request an absentee ballot in Virginia and October 31st is the last day to vote early in-person.

***Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Public Interest Legal Foundation represented both plaintiffs.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.