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Virginia's Dept. of Elections commissioner explains why 114,000 voters were removed from rolls

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Posted at 2:08 PM, Sep 10, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Ahead of this fall's elections in Virginia, about 114,000 voters have been removed from voter rolls statewide, the Virginia Department of Elections said.

In Hampton Roads, local registrars report about 6,000 were removed in Virginia Beach. Around 5,000 were removed in Norfolk, along with 3,000 in Newport News and 1,300 in Portsmouth.

"We go through a very precise process by which we're required by state and federal law," said Christopher Piper, the commissioner of the Department of Elections.

The issue drew attention this week when two Newport News state delegates raised concerns about the number of voters removed from rolls in Newport News.

"Every vote gets me riled up because that one vote could be the one vote that decides an election," said Del. Shelly Simonds (D-Newport News) on Wednesday.

Piper explained the process of why voters are removed in an interview with News 3. He says the Department of Elections will get information from the post office that a voter may have moved. They will send a confirmation notice to confirm.

If a voter doesn't respond, they go into inactive status. After that, if someone doesn't vote in back-to-back federal elections, they are removed from the voter rolls.

"We do great work to ensure the integrity of the electoral system," Piper said.

The process is done every two years. In this case, the statewide numbers are actually lower than they have been in previous years, but Hampton Roads may see higher numbers compared to other communities.

"There's a million and one reasons that could be. It's hard to tell for sure, but I will say with the military and student population in the Tidewater area, it's not uncommon to see slightly higher numbers than you would have in maybe a more rural locality," Piper said.

With Election Day approaching, voters still have another month or so to ensure their voter registration is active and ready to go.

"No matter what, we encourage all persons who are eligible to be registered to vote in Virginia to check their voter registration status," Piper said.

People can check their status on the Department of Elections website. Early voting begins on Sept. 17 in Virginia.

Click here for our full guide on the 2021 Virginia elections.