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Some Richmond voters in Scott-Sears race get wrong ballots

Associated Press
? November 2, 2004

RICHMOND ? Early voters in a city precinct cast ballots today in the wrong congressional race until the error was discovered and the correct ballot was entered into one of the voting machines.

"Once it was discovered about 6:10, 6:15 (a.m.), people were offered a paper ballot," said Virginia Board of Elections executive secretary Jean Jensen. "I think the unknown is how many votes were cast before that happened."

Initially, the mechanical voting machine listed the candidates in the 7th congressional district instead of the 3rd. The rest of the ballot was correct, election officials said.

But the error delayed voting at Virginia Union University, with some voters saying they had to wait two hours to cast their ballots.

Angry voters stormed in and out of the polling place shaking their heads.

An election worker, who did not give his name, described the situation as "minor" before declining further comment and entering a police car.

Alynne Mallory, data analyst from Richmond, said some people had to leave because they had to go to their jobs. Other voters left and then returned later.

U.S. Rep. Robert "Bobby" Scott, D-3rd, said his campaign would "keep an eye" on voting but was satisfied election officials responded correctly when the problem was detected.

"The key is, as soon as you find the problem, fix it," Scott said. "It's possible that no one was denied the right to vote. People will complain, if in fact they were denied the right to vote." Scott is being challenged by Republican Winsome E. Sears.

The Sears campaign said it was satisfied the problem was quickly corrected but would monitor the precinct.

Registrar Kirk Showalter blamed the problem on a precinct officer who failed to verify the ballot before it was loaded onto the machine.

"We addressed it rapidly," Showalter said. "We had provisional paper ballots on hand."

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