Registrars make sure elections run smoothly

RICHMOND, Va. — As voters rush to the polls Tuesday to elect a new governor, registrars throughout Virginia will be on high alert to make sure there are no problems and the elections run smoothly.

There are technicians in place to help with voting equipment issues and to make sure everything is up and running.

“We have technicians on Election Day roving around the city fully trained to diagnose problems,” Kirk Showalter, general registrar of Richmond, said.

The job of a registrar is to ensure that the electoral process is fair, accurate, and secure.

The registrars who oversee many of Virginia’s voting operations have to plan long in advance to minimize Election Day errors. One of the many issues registrars deal with is voter registration, making sure people are registered with the correct voting information.

“On Election Day voters have to run their ballot through the equipment, and it’s run by the supervision of election officers,” said Showalter.

Testing of the machines is done before the day of the actual election.

“We test every piece of equipment to make sure it’s functioning as it should and to make sure the ballots are as they expected it to be. It’s one piece of the much larger puzzle to maintaining the security of the equipment,” said Showalter.

One of the points Showalter stresses to potential voters is to “make sure the information is correct with your full legal name and date of birth. It has to be complete and your social security number is required in Virginia.”

Constance Tyler, the general registrar and director of elections in Chesterfield County said that she “maintains the voter registration database, oversees file maintenance, and anyone who needs to be removed who should not be there.”

“In Chesterfield County, there was an attempt for a person who voted twice since they moved out of state, and didn’t update their information,” Tyler said about a past election.

The general registrars are also in charge of finding people to help on Election Day.

Karen Alexander, director of elections in Powhatan County, said that “we get volunteers to help out at the polls.”

One of the ways Alexander said voters can protect themselves from issues at the polls is to make sure their address is correct prior to an attempt to vote.

“Make sure they have the correct information and address. They also need to come to the polls with an up-to-date valid picture ID. Having your voter registration card at all times is helpful, too,” Alexander said.

By Gary Haskins and Jessica Samuels (Special to WTVR.com)

EDITOR’S NOTE: WTVR.com has partnered with the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project at VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students from the project reported this story.