Step aside, Ms. Showalter

12/3/2020, 6 p.m.
When a public servant fails to serve the public, then she or he should step down from office or be ...

When a public servant fails to serve the public, then she or he should step down from office or be removed.

That’s why we join with Mayor Levar M. Stoney, two recent Richmond City Council candidates, the state Democratic Party and others who believe Richmond Voter Registrar Kirk Showalter should resign or be fired.

Ms. Showalter has done a disservice to Richmond voters for years, with a trail of documented problems and issues for which she has been called before state elections officials to explain. Most recently, Ms. Showalter failed to properly plan and handle the mounds of mail-in ballots officials across the state and the nation correctly anticipated in the Nov. 3 election because of the pandemic.

According to reports, Ms. Showalter left until the last minute the opening and processing of thousands of ballots mailed in by Richmond voters. She apparently didn’t have the number of workers needed to help with the important job and failed to inform her bosses — the Richmond Electoral Board — about that fact until it was too late, according to James M. Nachman, the board’s chairman.

Additionally, was it poor training — a complaint that has dogged Ms. Showalter in the past — that caused election officers in six city precincts to close up shop and go home on election night without reporting results?

How could something like that happen — and in six different precincts?

That, combined with other issues under Ms. Showalter’s control, caused voters to believe — based on information that her office reported to state officials — that a candidate had won an open City Council seat by a slim two dozen or so votes, only to find out days later when all the votes were reported that he actually had lost the race by more than 1,000 votes.

We understand that the pandemic forced changes during this election that we all had to adjust to. But we found it difficult to understand how and why Ms. Showalter’s staff gave incorrect information about the time, places and dates of early, in-person voting three different times to Free Press staffers who called inquiring about it. Two of those calls were made within 30 minutes of each other.

We believe providing incorrect information to the public about when and where people can vote is an impediment to voting. When informed about what the Free Press staffers experienced, Ms. Showalter bristled at this factual report and said she didn’t “need a lecture” and that many of her workers were making meager hourly wages.

By also failing to keep an adequate list of problem mail-in ballots so that those voters could be contacted and remedy the problems, Ms. Showalter was a roadblock to untold numbers of voters whose ballots may not have counted.

Was this intentional?

We don’t want to surmise.

But any registrar whose actions impede the keystone of democracy — voting — should be fired.