HERNDON, Va. (DC News Now) — More than a dozen early voting locations opened in Fairfax County on Thursday, including one at the Herndon Fortnightly Library. Some of the voters who showed up to vote were victims of misinformation, as more than 13,000 of the town’s residents received voting notices from the Virginia Department of Elections that contained an incorrect voting location.
The error was quickly corrected by Fairfax County, which sent updated notices to the residents.
“It was actually quite weird that they would be sending us out of Herndon to vote,” said Voter Nani Khalsa when describing her initial reaction. However, she said she was not too confused, knowing she was planning to vote in the town elections — and vote early.
The Virginia Department of Elections said the mistake was because the locations on voting notices were not updated. Residents started receiving erroneous notices last week.
“It happened on Thursday when several of my constituents received it,” said Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem, who was campaigning outside of the library. She said she also received the notice, and many of her constituents called her to report the mistake.
“They were very quick,” she said while discussing the county’s response. “Fairfax County got on it.”
While that quick action eased some of the confusion for voters like Khalsa, who called it a “nothingburger,” there is still a concern for other voters in town — especially when English is not their first language.
“When you have some sort of notice, official mailers or things of that nature to that community, it may not get rectified as quickly as a community where English is their normal language,” said Vice Mayor Cesar del Aguila, who was also campaigning outside the library.
He said he hopes the mistake sparks greater outreach efforts.
“Maybe for Herndon or towns that have this type of diversity we do more public service announcements in multiple languages,” he said. The U.S. Census estimates that 36.4% of Herndon is white only.
The ballot errors have sparked requests for investigations from Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay, who wrote in a letter asking for “the factors that led to this mailing, as well as detailed findings of the investigation” to be publicly released, “along with any recommended corrective actions, so Virginians can understand what happened and ensure that it never happens again.”
Olem said she believes Attorney General Jason Miyares’ newly formed Election Integrity Unit should investigate.
In a statement to DC News Now, a spokesperson for Miyares wrote: “The Attorney General is very frustrated with the vendor who made this mistake. This type of error is unacceptable, and our office is working with the Department of Elections in exploring all legal remedies against the vendor and ensuring that voters receive the correct information.”