Fact Check

Are Virginia Voting Machines Rigged to Party-Switch Votes?

Some Virginia voters experienced difficulties with miscalibrated touch-screen voting machines in 2014.

Published Nov. 3, 2014

Voting machines in Virginia have been "rigged" to switch votes for Republican candidates to Democratic candidates.
What's True

Some Virginia voters experienced difficulties with miscalibrated touch-screen voting machines in 2014.

What's False

No Virginia voting machines were "rigged" to party-switch votes, and machines exhibiting miscalibration issues were quickly adjusted or removed from service.

On 4 November 2014, Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) alleged several voters reported voting machines changing votes cast for him to votes for his challenger, Democrat Suzanne Patrick:

**UPDATE.... I've heard many reports that this is "just a calibration issue." I will say this... when I went to page 2 and began voting for city council members, I touched inside each box (like I did on the first screen) and this time had NO issues whatsoever. So, I don't know except, this is always happening during elections, and this is always benefiting the Democrats.

The voting machine cast a ballot for the Democrat when I was touching Republican. I notified the poll worker and he said it's a calibration issue. Funny thing is, it did not happen on the next page with other ballots.

He said, "that's because you're hitting the center of the box. You need to touch the top of the box." Well imagine that! Who knew that I should be hitting anywhere OTHER than the center of the box?!?!?

PATRIOTS OF AMERICA..... Don't let voter fraud continue! This may happen to you one day!

On the same day, the Republican Party of Virginia issued a letter addressed to Edgardo Cortes, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, claiming widespread voting machine problems in fifteen Virginia districts.

In the letter, a Virginia GOP spokesman said voters reported "difficulty selecting the candidate of their choice using the touch screen because the screen's touch sensor is not properly aligned with the text that appears on the screen." A link was provided to the video above, during which a voter's selection for Rigell appeared to repeatedly register for Patrick. The video was provided by Rigell's campaign.

Rigell also posted to Facebook about voting machine irregularities:

Friends - we have received numerous, credible reports of poll machine irregularity at voting precincts in Virginia's Second Congressional District. This is very troubling. It is critical that every voter verifies the final summary page before pushing the "cast ballot" option.

If your voting machine incorrectly recorded your vote, PLEASE report this issue immediately to our Campaign Manager, Esmel Meeks, by phone: 757-425-0680 or by email: Esmel@ScottRigell.com.

Please help us spread this message by contacting your family and friends and remind them to double check the summary page before submitting their vote! In every election, every vote matters. Help us make sure each one is recorded correctly. Thank you for your support.

In response to the video, the Virginia Department of Elections released a statement indicating a calibration issue affected some machines in Virginia Beach and Newport News:

Virginia Beach and Newport News are experiencing technical difficulties with their AccuVote TSX Touch Screen voting machines. These technical difficulties are being addressed by both localities' teams of voting equipment technicians in conjunction with AccuVote vendors. Based on discussions with local election officials, the issues appear related to touch screen calibration.

Virginia Beach Voter Registrar Donna Patterson told the Virginian-Pilot the department was aware of the reports and measures were being undertaken to ensure an accurate vote count:

Patterson, the registrar, said this morning her office had taken a few calls from voters, she said, adding, "but to be honest with you, we've had more calls from Rigell's office than from voters."

About seven technicians were in the field addressing issues with voting machines, Patterson said. More than a dozen other people also were helping in the field.

"Everyone is fully engaged on this," Patterson said.

The Virginia Department of Elections asserted that any machines exhibiting miscalibration were immediately taken out of service.


Clayton, Cindy and Scott Daugherty.   "Voting Irregularities In Virginia Beach, Newport News."     The Virginian-Pilot   4 November 2014.

Liebelson, Dana.   "Republican Congressman Claims Voting Machines Are Rigged."     Huffington Post   4 November 2014.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.