Lawsuit against Buckingham Electoral Board dismissed

Published 1:29 am Thursday, June 8, 2023

The lawsuit against the Buckingham County Electoral Board has been dismissed. Speaking after the court hearing on Tuesday, June 6, Board of Supervisors member Jordan Miles said the current interim registrar provided most of what he had asked for. But in some cases, that meant he received nothing, as they didn’t have the requested files on record. 

“While the responses to my requests could be considered insufficient, I want to put this suit behind us to afford the Electoral Board the time and energy it needs to be fully prepared for the November election and stabilize itself and its operations, all of which are essential to democracy in Buckingham,” Miles said.

Miles had filed a lawsuit against the board, board chair Dr. Karen Cerwinski and the registrar’s office in May, arguing they had violated state law in multiple ways. The documents Miles requested included any absentee ballots from the Nov. 2022 election that shouldn’t have been counted. He also requested any returned absentee ballots and any absentee ballots deemed to be defective or fraudulent but still sent out. This is in response to some claims that a number of absentee ballots counted in Buckingham shouldn’t have been.

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But as Miles points out, the electoral board had no evidence of any of those things. In those cases, the response to each point in the FOIA request was “the requested records could not be found or do not exist.” That is, the board had no evidence of fraudulent applications, fraudulent ballots or absentee ballots handled improperly in Buckingham. 

Familiar face on Buckingham electoral board

In addition to the lawsuit ending, Buckingham also has a full electoral board for the first time in months. 

The way electoral board nominations work in Virginia is pretty simple. A political party selects no fewer than three candidates for the seat. That list is turned over to the circuit court judge, who chooses one of the candidates for the post. The majority on the board varies, depending on who the governor is.

The electoral board majority matches the governor’s party, which is why Buckingham currently has two seats for Republicans and one for Democrats. Dr. Karen Cerwinski holds one of the Republican seats. Woody Hanes currently holds the Democratic seat on the board. The third seat on the board was vacant, previously held by Republican Sandy Banks-Bertwell, who stepped down in April. Feeling better able to handle the job now, she reapplied and was reappointed to the job.