Virginia Judge Rules Some Absentee Ballots Without Postmarks Cannot Be Counted

Virginia Judge Rules Some Absentee Ballots Without Postmarks Cannot Be Counted
Absentee ballot election workers stuff ballot applications at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office in Charlotte, N.C. on Sept. 4, 2020. (Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images)
Janita Kan

A judge from a state court ruled that Virginian election officials cannot count absentee ballots with missing postmarks if a barcode scan cannot confirm the date of mailing.

The judge on the Virginian state court on Wednesday ruled partially in favor of a conservative legal group that brought the lawsuit challenging a regulation that instructed local election officials to count absentee ballots with missing or illegible postmarks that were received by noon on the Friday after Nov. 3.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Frederick County Board of Elections member Tom Reed, argued that the regulation was in violation of a state election law issued in 2020 that stipulates any absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 6 will be counted. The chairman of the Winchester Republican Committee Robert Hess is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

“The existence of a postmark on or before the date of election is an explicit statutory condition precedent for the acceptance of any absentee ballot in Virginia. Defendants have no authority to issue guidance in conflict with explicit state statute on the very matter at issue,” the group wrote in their complaint (pdf).
The judge ruled that if scanning a barcode on a ballot with a missing postmark could not confirm when the ballot was mailed, then it would not count. However, the judge said that a ballot postmarked illegibly could be counted as long as the voter signed the ballot on or before election day.

Rich Anderson, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, called the ruling a “big win for election integrity and the rule of law in Virginia.”

“In a lawsuit brought by two of our grassroots Republicans, the Frederick County Circuit Court told the Attorney General and the State Board of Elections what we all know–the law means what it says,” Anderson added.

Meanwhile, the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s president and general counsel J. Christian Adams said in a statement: “Mr. Reed had a straightforward request: follow the law. The judge enjoined the Virginia State Board of Elections from issuing instructions to count late ballots without postmarks.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office did not immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times to comment.

Charlotte Gomer, a spokeswoman for Herring, told AP that they expect the number of ballots with missing or illegible postmarks to be very small.

“Yet again, Republicans have gone to court to try and suppress the vote,” Gomer said. “Attorney General Herring has made voter protection and election integrity a top priority over the past few months and he remains dedicated to making sure that any legally cast vote in Virginia counts.”