August 6, 2020

Roanoke Valley residents receive confusing absentee ballot applications that included the wrong return addresses.

Roanoke Times reported that thousands of residents from Roanoke, Roanoke County, and Franklin County received applications for absentee ballots from the Center for Voter Information this week. The Center is based in Washington, D.C. While the pre-filled applications are legitimate, the addresses on return envelopes were wrong.

The report stated that residents received preaddressed returns from Roanoke County’s registrar’s office. This mistake confused voters, and the county and city registrars spent time answering calls and trying to fix the mishap. The misaddressed envelopes complicate the election’s situation as many voters are to consider absentee and vote-by-mail options due to the pandemic.

According to the Center for Voter Information, more than 47,000 residents received incorrect mailers. CVI sent an email that was forwarded to the Roanoke Times. Applications with the wrong return envelopes were sent to 29,22 Roanoke voters, and 17,225 Roanoke County residents.
The email also stated that the group offered to send prepaid FedEx or UPS slips to sent the mail applications to their rightful destination.

CVI clarified that the group and their partner organization Voter Participation Center are, “a non-partisan and non-profit organization that works to provide even-handed and unbiased information about candidates and their position on issues.” Currently, the group is pushing for “Rising American Electorate,” a group made up of women, minorities, and young voters.

Chief Executive Tom Lopach said that the error with the mailings happened due to an error with the offsite printing and mailing facility. CVI will work with local officials to correct this mistake at their own expense. In his interview on Thursday, Lopch said, “During a pandemic, when departments of motor vehicles and person-to-person voter engagement have largely been sidelined, our work to to register voters and help voters vote by mail is more important than ever.”

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