RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia’s elections systems have multiple problems, including an unreliable technology system and a leadership structure susceptible to undue political influence, according to a new report.
The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission - the General Assembly’s watchdog agency - said Monday that it found no large-scale voter fraud in Virginia but several areas to improve the systems.
Virginia’s elections systems came under scrutiny last year after some voters were given the wrong ballots in several districts. That included a tight state House race in a Fredericksburg-area district that could have cost Republicans their control of the House of Delegates.
The Old Dominion saw several close state legislative elections last year, when Democrats benefited from voter unhappiness with President Donald Trump and won 15 new seats in the state House. About 12 percent of state House elections and 4 percent of state Senate elections have been decided by fewer than 1,000 votes in the last decade.
GOP House Speaker Kirk Cox called JLARC’s report “disconcerting” and said he was particularly concerned by the report’s findings of potential political bias during former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration.
JLARC’s report did not provide details of any political bias under the previous administration, but said that some Department of Elections employees felt there had been “an environment in which one party was openly supported over the other.”
The report recommends trimming the number of political appointees working at the elections department.
JLARC also says the state should assign a full-time employee to improve maintenance of the state’s voter registration list, study whether to replace the election department’s electronic registration information system, and to boost oversight of local election officials.
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