LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Lynchburg Republican City Committee Chair Eric Harrison has filed a lawsuit in Lynchburg Circuit Court against Christine Gibbons, General Registrar and Director of Elections for the City of Lynchburg on Friday.
The suit asks the Court to order Gibbons to adhere to election laws regarding the processing of absentee ballots, which Harrison alleges Gibbons violated.
“We’re not seeking to throw out any votes,” Harrison told WFXR in a phone call on Friday, Oct. 30, also clarifying that he is not seeking any kind of re-processing of the ballots. He praised the volunteers helping to process the mail-in ballots, saying, “We haven’t seen them do anything wrong.”
Rather, he said, the goal of the suit is to ensure that protocol is followed going forward.
The law in question is Virginia Code § 24.2-109.1, which states that the Registrar can open and scan sealed ballots before Election Day. The suit says the law requires one election officer from each political party must be present when that process is happening.
Harrison told WFXR there was a 15-minute period on Thursday, Oct. 29, where there was no Republican election officer present.
Of the seven election officers trained to oversee the process, three are Republicans, and four are non-affiliated, according to a document provided by the Lynchburg Republican City Committee. The Lynchburg Democratic Committee has not sent officers to oversee the process for many years, according to current Chair Nichole Sanders as well as the most recent Chair Katie Webb Cyphert.
A representative with the local Republican party provided emails, apparently from Gibbons to the committee, stating that processing would not occur on Thursday. The representative told WFXR a member of their committee observed processing taking place on Thursday, and a second email from Gibbons they provided said the following:
“I understand that I sent an email on Monday stating days we were not pre-processing. However, I also understand that I made an error in indicating what those dates were. We did not pre-process Tuesday October 27 or Wednesday October 28. We are pre-processing today Thursday October 29. Pre-processing is being observed and has been since 10:00 a.m. by Jacob Huemoeller, Republican authorized representative. We did post the pre-processing dates on the wall with the correct dates crossed off. I do apologize profusely for this confusion. Our office is trying to follow the procedures as in the handbook and election law. I am sure you can understand constant interruptions probably led to my error in sending the wrong dates. I hope that you will accept my apology and that my intent was not to circumvent the law.”Email from Christine Gibbons to both Party Chairs
Gibbons could not immediately be reached for comment.
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