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Staunton voting machines involved in Election Day mix up before ‘smooth sailing’

Rebecca Barnabi
your vote matters
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At 6 a.m. this morning, Staunton voters began visiting their polling sites, but polling volunteers soon discovered an unexpected quirk.

This was the second year that the city voted under a ward system, which requires that each ward have a specific voting machine.

But, volunteers and Electoral Board staff found that the tops of the five machines, which read the ballots, were not in the correct wards.

“We had an issue and trouble shot it and fixed it within an hour,” said Staunton Electoral Board Chair Shannon Grogg.

Afterward, Grogg said Election Day 2023 was “smooth sailing” in the Queen City.

Thanks to the city’s system of checks and balances, the error was quickly discovered and corrected without affecting Election Day results.

“I think it really was a combined effort,” Grogg said of the solution which the Electoral Board, Officers of Elections and volunteers worked on together.

Grogg is in her first year serving on the board but has been involved with local elections for 10 years.

This morning’s quirk had a positive outcome and allowed the city’s elections team to practice its system of checks and balances.

All ballots that were collected but unable to cast were secured until the correct machines were in each ward. Poll workers at each ward were asked to come inside and watch as Electoral Board staff then fed ballots into the machines after each machine produced a 0 tape count.

“It won’t take just any ballot. That was good for us to see first-hand,” Grogg said of the voting machines.

How the tops of the machines were mixed up is unknown. Grogg said that every election has some issues, but they are usually too small for anyone to notice.

The Electoral Board is an unbiased body with one purpose.

“We’re here so anybody who wants to vote can hand vote,” Grogg said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.