There are some rumblings about Virginia’s odd-year state elections that have some of the state’s more sensitive (and partisan) antennae twitching. One is Del. Marcus Simon’s proposal for a Constitutional amendment that elections for state and local offices be held at the same time as federal elections – that is, in even years. (You can read it here.) Another is a recent court challenge to House of Delegates districts. Simon, a Falls Church Democrat, says the idea behind his proposal is to boost turnout. Millions fewer Virginians show up to vote for members of the General Assembly in odd years than show up in federal elections, particularly in years like 2015 when there is no race for governor. In 2011, for instance, 1.5 million Virginians voted for members of the House of Delegates and State Senate. In the 2012 presidential race, about 3.8 million voted.
“When voter participation increases, democracy works better,” Simon said. And while holding state and federal elections at the same time could change the balance in General Assembly, Simon said that is not his purpose.
“These things ebb and flow,” he said, noting that his party held on to control of the state legislature for decades into the 1990s, even as Virginia moved decisively Republican in national elections.
Concerns about the partisan impact should be eased by the fact that his proposal wouldn’t take effect until 2030. he said. (The reason is to do with the multi-year process of amending the Constitution and the fact that some of the local government offices affected have lengthy terms and it wouldn’t be proper to cut short an elected official’s term part-way through.)