CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Election officials are blaming “human error” for mistakes in the absentee ballot tallying process that changed the outcome of last week’s Christiansburg Town Council race, saying that a recount turned up more than 600 votes that were not counted.
WFXR News has learned that the former chief officer of the Central Absentee Precinct made multiple errors, including writing down the wrong number and typing another number incorrectly into the calculator during the tabulation process.
Chairman Richard Langford of the Montgomery County Electoral Board says the miscount was due to human error by an elected officer during an extremely long election day.
“The tabulation process was done close to 11 o’clock on Tuesday night, so it had been a long day,” said Langford.
According to Langford, the elected officer chose to step down following the election recount.
“She feels terrible about the error,” said Langford. “Of course, all the election officials and the registrar regrets that that occurred.”
Candidate Anthony Woodyard was announced as the original winner from the preliminary election results. However, after the electoral board conducted the canvassing process on Thursday, Nov. 4, it turned out that a number of absentee ballots were not tallied and that Casey Jenkins actually received more votes.
Woodyard says he went from having high hopes to feeling crushed after the recount was completed. He thought he was the winner, but the new vote put him in fifth place.
“It was soul-crushing if we are being honest,” the candidate said.
Woodyard added that when voters go to the polls, they should have trust in the process being carried out accurately, saying that this affects everyone involved in elections.
“It’s really a difficult thing for the community, candidates, and the supporters of that candidate to know that you’ve gone from thinking you’ve won a seat to not having a place on council at all,” said Woodyard.
Jenkins, who ended up winning the race, also took issue with how the process leading up to his victory turned out.
“This past week has been an emotional roller coaster,” said Jenkins. “While I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve Christiansburg, I certainly wish things transpired differently to reach the correct voting results. Mr. Woodyard ran a great campaign and I have a lot of respect for him.”
Langford says the electoral board will hold a meeting on Dec. 10 to look over the issues and to find a way to keep this from happening again.
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