The NCSL Blog


By Amanda Zoch

Getting the right ballot to the right voter is hard, something Virginia knows all too well.

Canvass logoIn 2017, a tied state legislative race was resolved by drawing the winner’s name out of a bowl. Yet later analysis revealed that 26 voters had received the wrong ballot; no one knows how the results might have differed had those voters gotten the correct ballots.

That same year, 80-plus voters near Fredericksburg were assigned to the wrong district, making some question the election results there as well.

And on Election Day 2019, an unknown number of Virginians in six Stafford County precincts received the wrong ballots. Though the error was caught within 30 minutes, any votes cast on the wrong ballot would still count.

Mix-ups happen. But what can election officials do to avoid these mishaps?

The new trend of using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in election offices offers one method for ensuring that each voter receives the correct ballot.

Want to know more? We’ve done a deep dive for you on the value of geo-enabled elections in our most recent edition of The Canvass, the NCSL election administration newsletter.

The November issue also includes an interview with Representative Kevin Bratcher (R-Ky.), election news highlights, new NCSL research on risk-limiting audits and campaign finance, cybersecurity updates and more.

Find the November issue here. To subscribe, email us at

Amanda Zoch is an NCSL legislative policy specialist and Mellon/ACLS Fellow.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.