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Portions of the ballots in two Spotsylvania precincts won’t be counted

Portions of the ballots cast by some Spotsylvania County voters will not be counted because of problems this morning at two county polling places.

Kathy Smith, county spokeswoman, said this afternoon that the ballots cast by 189 people at the Lee Hill and Summit precincts early this morning are only partially valid. The voters’ choices for president and senate and their preferences on the two constitutional questions will be honored, Smith said. But voters’ choices in the First and Seventh Congressional District races will be discarded, she added.

“All the votes for presidential election, senatorial election and the two questions are valid votes,” Smith said. “The other votes will not count because there’s no way to tell if people were voting in their correct district.”

In the Summit Precinct, 141 votes in the congressional race will be disregarded. In the Lee Hill Precinct, 48 votes in the congressional race will be disregarded.

As soon as the problem was discovered, voting officials stopped using the touch-screen machines and issued paper ballots, Smith said. Eventually four machines each in the two precincts were removed, and three replacement machines each were brought to the two polling places.

“Those [original] machines are no longer in use,” Smith said.

Both precincts are split precincts, where people in both the 1st and 7th congressional districts vote. Problems arose when election workers did not program the machines correctly. Some machines were supposed to be programmed for the First District race and some for the Seventh. But that didn’t happen.

Workers at the precincts were supposed to use two cards to program the machines. Instead they used only one card.

“At the Summit and Lee Hill precincts, the technicians failed to use both designated cards to activate the machines, thereby directing all machines to utilize a single Congressional ballot,” Smith said in a statement.

In other words, voters who should have been voting in the Seventh District race were voting in the First District race and vice-versa. As a result, those ballots in those races are not valid.