Some election officials ignored subpoenas, did not attend recount, court clerk says

VIRGINIA BEACH — Monday marked the beginning of the city’s historic recount of three of its City Council contests — and the recount room was packed with people, including 60 election officials responsible for hand-counting the ballots, who were served subpoenas by Circuit Court Clerk Tina Sinnen to attend.

But not everyone showed up.

At least six election officials did not respond to their subpoenas and were notably absent from the room Monday. Their absence prompted Virginia Beach Circuit Court Chief Judge Glenn Croshaw to call them out.

“We’ll deal with them later,” Croshaw said, when asked what the court would do about the missing officials.

Sinnen later acknowledged the priority of completing the recount over pursuing the ignored subpoenas, and said they would pursue those who ignored the subpoena after the recount is completed.

Related story: City wants different voting machines for recount. Not everyone is on board

But Sinnen added “it is a serious offense to ignore a judge’s order to come to court.”

Noncompliance with a subpoena is considered contempt of court, Sinnen said.

A subpoena issued to Virginia Beach resident Denise Holden mandating her attendance at the election recount Monday. Similar orders were sent out to other recount officials (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
A subpoena issued to Virginia Beach resident Denise Holden mandating her attendance at the election recount Monday. Similar orders were sent out to other recount officials (Southside Daily)

They could have a “show cause” to appear before Croshaw to explain why they weren’t at the recount Monday, or the court could issue an arrest warrant.

Amanda D. Herman, spokeswoman for Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle, confirmed his office had not yet been contacted by the city about the pursuit of charges against the election officials.

Luckily, Sinnen said Monday, the court summoned more elections officials for the recount than needed, and so people were available to replace those who did not show.

Although the recount process is new, “but running smoothly,” Sinnen said, she does not believe the subpoenas issued to the election officials left anything to the imagination

“The language is very clear,” Sinnen said. “I don’t know how you could confuse the subpoena. But if someone were confused, why wouldn’t you call the court for clarification?”

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