Lynchburg registrar found ballots in drop box after primary election amid irregularity concerns

The Ward IV Lynchburg City Council race remains undecided, with the incumbent ahead by 21 votes.

Published: June 24, 2024 6:58pm

The registrar for Lynchburg, Va., found uncounted ballots in a drop box after the primary election last week as two Republican candidates raised concerns about election irregularities.

On Monday, as the election between two Republican candidates for Ward IV Lynchburg City Council remains undecided, with the incumbent ahead by 21 votes, the Lynchburg registrar said that seven uncounted ballots were found in a drop box three days after last week's primary election, ABC13 reported.

The ballot drop box in the registrar's office was emptied at 12:50 p.m. on Tuesday to prevent it from overfilling, the registrar confirmed. However, the ballot box wasn't checked again until Friday at 12:15 p.m., three days after the primary election. It is unknown when the ballots were dropped off, whether on Election Day or after.

While three staff members monitor the drop box, they "did not observe any ballots being placed into the drop box," according to the registrar. The ballots have not been scanned or tabulated and the Department of Elections has been notified. The registrar and Electoral Board are investigating the situation.

On Friday, the incumbent Republican candidate, Vice Mayor Chris Faraldi, wrote in a Facebook post, "We were made aware that the Lynchburg Registrar’s Office improperly handled ballots in obvious and flagrant violation of state code and election procedures.

"Their ballot drop box was left unlocked and open. They miraculously found ballots in that unlocked drop box 3 days after the election, noon Friday, and began processing them. That’s well past Election Day and in violation of state law," Faraldi added.

He also said that the registrar and Electoral Board were "handpicked by the local party establishment," and that "members of the Electoral Board and election officers have been big financial supporters and advisors to my opponent."

The vice mayor said that the campaign for GOP congressional candidate John McGuire, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump against Rep. Bob Good, alerted him to the situation.

McGuire's campaign told ABC13 on Sunday that it "had a representative present to observe the counting of provisional and mail ballots on Friday. The local registrar confirmed the dropbox had remained open until Friday, June 20, three days after it should have been closed and locked, and that ballots received there were being processed. Our representative noted that ballots should not have been accepted after 7 p.m. on Election Day, and alerted the registrar to this fact."

Faraldi's opponent, Peter Alexander, released a statement on Saturday, saying that his "campaign aligns with Chris Faraldi’s concerns about irregularities in the June 18th Republican primary for Lynchburg."

Both "Alexander and an observer witnessed confusion from electoral board members and staff over the process used to count votes during the canvass on Thursday, June 20th," according to the statement.

The campaign explained that election staff informed them of "drop box bags from the precincts were pulled by electoral board member Steve Troxel on Thursday morning after the primary. Concerns have arisen about the chain-of-custody of these ballots, and there is no documentation recording the number of ballots collected from each Election Day drop box bag in Ward IV."

Alexander alleged that his campaign's observer was prevented from viewing the absentee ballot processing until 30 minutes after it began.

He also noted "that Crux Consulting, LLC is listed on Chris Faraldi’s campaign finance report as a vendor, and it is registered to Steven Michael Troxel of Lynchburg, Virginia," adding that "there is no record of disclosure regarding the relationship between political firm Crux Consulting, Lynchburg Electoral Board member Steven Troxel, and candidate Chris Faraldi."

Alexander called for "a full manual recount and audit" of the primary election and asked Faraldi to join his demand.

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