Virginia’s Faulty Voting Machines in the 2014 Midterm Elections

By Jonathan Gonzalez

The 2014 midterm elections on November 4th culminated in major victories for the Republican Party, which succeeded in wresting control of the United States Senate from the Democrats by slim margins. Among the Republican Party Senate hopefuls, Ed Gillespie made waves in Virginia on election night, and came within a percentage point of ousting popular Democratic incumbent, Mark Warner. Warner, a former governor of Virginia, came about 16,000 votes shy of suffering a major upset.

Amidst the excitement of the Senate race, another incident occurred in Virginia 2nd Congressional district which includes Virginia Beach. The incident involved a number of faulty voting machines. A number of voters repoted difficulty in selecting their candidate of choice. Congressman Scott Rigel, the Republican incumbent candidate in the 2nd district said at a press conference on the morning of the Election that his office had already received as many as twenty-five calls from constituents who claimed that touch screen displays, instead of registering their votes for Rigel as intended had appeared as votes for his Democratic Party opponent, Suzanne Patrick. The Rigel campaign raised concerns that the voting machines used in the district, which were second-hand models pre-dating the 2002 Help America Vote Act standards, incorrectly recorded the selections of several voters.

“These things are dinosaurs at this point,” Professor Green of William & Mary Law School said. “It’s no surprise to me there would be trouble with the machines.”

Despite allegations of voter fraud and an unsuccessful attempt in court to switch from electronic voting machines to paper ballots, Rigel carried the 2nd district by 38,000 votes.

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