Absentee Ballot Controversy in VA’s CD-5 Primary

From EPEC Team Newsletter:

  1. Expect a Recount and More in VA’s Republican CD 5 Primary, Local Races
  2. U.S. Senate Race is set, Other Congressional Races
  3. Why Gov. Youngkin’s EO on Voter Roll Improvements Matters

1. Accusations Flying, Recount Expected in VA 5 Republican Congressional Primary

It’s a nail-biter of a Republican House primary race amid absentee ballot controversies swirling in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District between incumbent Rep. Bob Good and his challenger John McGuire.

With ballots still left to canvas the week of the 24th, McGuire was leading by 334 votes following Tuesday’s primary count of ballots thus far.

After reports of irregularities in the counting across localities in CD 5, Good, who heads the House Freedom Caucus, said his campaign would be “pursuing a hand-count recount.”

According to numerous reports, Lynchburg county officials allowed absentee mail-in ballots to be dropped off in an unlocked dropbox for days after the June 18th primary when they are supposed to be closed out.

“They were not secure, and there was no accountability of how were protected,” he told the Warroom broadcast/podcast Saturday.

“We have evidence and documentation to show who was at fault here. And we are pursuing that with all vigor.”

Rep. Good was fighting for his seat in a primary challenge dubbed the “McCarthy Revenge Tour,” after Good voted to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Per NBCNews, Good “told his supporters that he is former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s top target, as McCarthy looks to take down the small group of Republicans who ousted him late last year. McCarthy’s first effort fell short last week when Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina won her primary. “

McGuire, a former Navy SEAL who also protested the 2020 election in swing states, received an endorsement from President Donald Trump. In a statement about the irregularities, the McGuire campaign confirmed it had a representative present during a canvas on Friday.

“The local [Lynchburg] registrar confirmed the dropbox had remained open until Friday, June 20, three days after it should have been closed and locked, and that ballots received there were being processed. Our representative noted that ballots should not have been accepted after 7 p.m. on Election Day, and alerted the registrar to this fact,” the statement said.

“Regardless, it is still clear to all that there is no path forward for Bob Good’s campaign and John McGuire is the clear winner of Tuesday’s election.”

Not so fast, Rep. Good said Saturday: “We are absolutely going to pursue a recount and a contest of this election.”

To view results by each locality in the congressional district, see the Dept. of Elections’ unofficial results here.

Gloria Tinsley Witt, who won the Democrat primary for District 5, is among those watching to see who she will be facing in the solid-Republican district race.

Not the Only Race Roiled in Lynchburg

WSET-Ch.13 News reporter Rachel Tillapaugh reported Sunday that a razor-thin margin between local candidates Chris Faraldi and Peter Alexander for the Ward IV Lynchburg City Council Republican nomination was also rocked by accusations of illegal ballot management from the same locality.

“Both Faraldi and Alexander are claiming the Lynchburg Registrar’s Office improperly handled ballots for the race,” the station reported, noting a Facebook post by Faraldi:

“Their ballot drop box was left unlocked and open. They miraculously found ballots in that unlocked drop box 3 days after the election, noon Friday, and began processing them. That’s well past Election Day and in violation of state law.”

Virginia statute is clear about the deadlines for returning absentee ballots:

If you are returning your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked on or before election day and received by your general registrar’s office by noon on the third day following the election (In the event that that day is a holiday, the deadline is moved to the following business day).

Dropbox ballots are collected on primary election night Tuesday. If election officers are doing their jobs properly, they are returned to main offices for processing.

“Election staff confirmed that it had been standard practice to allow the ballot dropbox to be stuffed until Friday, which violates Virginia law, according to a detailed statement by Faraldi’s opponent, Peter Alexander.

“Staff also stated the drop box was emptied Friday morning, but did not produce records documenting access to the drop box until nearly an hour after our observer requested receipts….we may never know how many were stuffed in the drop box after the polls closed.”

Some 21 votes reportedly separate the two candidates in their race for Lynchburg City Council. Electoral Board Chairman David Levy told WSET he had no comment.

The developments were a kind of déjà vu all over again for the Virginia Project, which noted: “If these allegations are true, we have a real problem on our hands.”

Lynchburg is expected to continue its canvas Monday.

See the unofficial counts from localities here:


2. Rounding out Congressional, Senate Primaries:

The Virginia Senate race is also set after Republican candidate Hung Cao handily won the U.S. Senate Republican primary with more than 60% of the vote to face incumbent Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine.

Virginia’s 7th Congressional District race has its candidates for the November general to take the seat held since 2019 by Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who is expected to make a run for governor.

The Cook Political report has now rated the district’s political leanings from “likely Democrat” to “lean Democrat.”

Derrick M. Anderson won the Republican primary with 16,286 votes, according to unofficial results from the Dept. of Elections.

In the Democrat primary, Yevgeny Semyon “Eugene” S. Vindman collected 17,185 votes to win.

If the name Vindman sounds familiar, journalist Lee Smith’s coverage of geopolitics may help fill in some gaps of the activities of his twin brother.

Writing in Tablet Magazine in 2022, Smith noted:

Just as the false “Russiagate” hoax against President Trump “seemed to be coming to a close in July 2019, U.S. national security officials injected yet another Ukraine-related narrative into the public sphere to target the American president. This one appears to have been initiated by Ukrainian American White House official Alexander Vindman and his colleague Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst who had served as Vice President Biden’s point man on Ukraine during the Obama administration.”

It would be fair to observe that funding debates over the war in Ukraine may be a campaign issue in the 7th district race.

In the 10th Congressional District race, which includes Loudoun County, Democrat Suhas Subramanyam appeared to be holding his solid lead now that all ballots are in.

He will face Republican Mike Clancy, “a tech executive and a regular commentator for conservative news giant Newsmax,” in the general election.

Incumbent Rep. Gerry Connolly easily won his primary challenge in the 11th Congressional District.

  • Unofficial Democrat Primary Results, per Dept. of Elections are here.
  • Unofficial Republican primary results, per Dept. of Elections are here.

3. About Voter Data Quality, Per Gov. Youngkin’s Executive Order

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin received a flurry of positive responses to his June 7 Executive Order (including from EPEC) to “strengthen Virginia’s voter rolls and ensure better data accuracy.”

But it also received its share of critiques from election integrity officials asking why he didn’t announce this sooner.

Executive Order 31 will require the Department of Elections to update data-sharing agreements with several state agencies within 90 days,” the announcement says.

The concern is that the EO arrives too late to make much of a difference in the quality of voter data in the November General Election, which begins with early voting in little more than three months.

For now, we know that it “establishes an interagency work group to improve the quality and security of voter registration data. Based on the work group’s recommendations, the Department of Elections will develop and review data-sharing standards for list maintenance processing.”

See the full EO here. EPEC Team is looking into how the task force will operate.

Virginia’s Dept. of Elections has been modernizing its voter-roll maintenance system to expand data-sharing agreements with other data sources and states, which share information about residents who move and surrender their drivers’ licenses.

The EO appears to codify those efforts.

“This initiative builds on the administration’s robust improvements to list maintenance, including establishing one-to-one data-sharing agreements with seven states, conducting two National Change of Address mailings, and streamlining the process for removing deceased voters through an audit of Virginia deceased records,” the governor’s office said in a release.

But like many states that are allowing noncitizens to flow onto voter rolls through their Dept. of Motor Vehicles under the National Voter Registration Act, Virginia’s Dept. of Elections faces the added task of culling noncitizens from voter rolls.

EPEC has documented recent examples of noncitizens removed from voter rolls, including 1,481 registrations for “non-citizen status” from the Commonwealth’s official voter rolls, according to its maintenance records since 2023.

Of those removals, Electoral Process Education Corporation (EPEC) has identified voting records of over 800 ballots cast by voters the Commonwealth has designated as “non-citizen” for the reason they were removed from official rolls. Their voting histories go back to at least 2019.

EPEC Team has not received a response from the Virginia Attorney General’s office about whether any records exist of prosecution for illegal balloting by persons unqualified to vote, which is a Class 6 felony in Virginia. It is also a Class 6 felony for anyone who “procures, assists, or induces another to vote knowing that such person is not qualified to vote.”


EPEC’s volunter chief technology officer, Jon Lareau, recently plotted the number of noncitizens who have a voting history before being removed from Virginia’s voter rolls:


Graph shows stacked bar chart showing number of noncitizens removed from voting rolls; Internal shading shows how many were voting.



In an era of Big Data, more states are acting to improve on their responsibility to maintain accurate voter rolls.

The governor’s EO on voter roll modernization appears to be aimed at preparing for the new statewide Voter Election Registration Information System (VERIS) it is preparing to roll out by mid-2025.

Your volunteers at EPEC Data, which has been documenting problems and improvements with Virginia’s voter roll maintenance, would offer this observation on the EO: it’s progress — better later than never. Citizens would be wise to offer their input as the process unfolds.

(Editor’s Note: EPEC Data will be adjusting its publishing schedule this week to follow the end of canvassing in Virginia’s 2024 Primary Election and share our analysis of the voter data.)

For now, that’s a wrap. #

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