The historic recount of three City Council elections began here Monday, as a medley of people packed a city conference room to commence the review of more than 170,000 ballots. The three DS-850 ballot-counting machines — the use of which three of the six candidates involved in the recount objected — lined the front of the room, as sheriff’s deputies managed traffic across the room. Circuit Court Clerk Tina Sinnen described the process — an unprecedented one that has been crafted in the public eye over the last several weeks — as “organized chaos,” illustrating the interlocking puzzle of people, process, and access required to administer the state’s first recount of multiple elections.
Articles about voting issues in Virginia.
Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates have formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and block a lower court’s efforts to redraw the House map for the 2019 elections. In a court filing released Thursday, House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, asked the Supreme Court to grant an emergency stay that would halt a lower court’s efforts to enact a new House map to fix 11 districts found to be racially gerrymandered. Republicans are appealing the ruling, and the Supreme Court has agreed to hear new arguments in the case early next year. Because the lower court could be overturned, Cox said, putting a new map in place would “cause confusion” as candidates and voters prepare for legislative primaries next June.
Virginia’s Elections Commissioner says turnout among registered voters on Nov. 6 was “slightly unprecedented” for a midterm election. “We also saw some pretty impressive absentee ballot numbers…The numbers of the return ballots and the overall turn out,” Commissioner Christopher Piper said. The State Board of Elections certified the votes for the election on Monday. The Department of Elections is still crunching the numbers, but Commissioner Piper said they roughly estimate that over 50 percent of eligible Virginians voted in the election. On Oct. 29, the Department of Elections said more than 5.6 million people had registered to vote and nearly 200,000 absentee ballots were filled out and returned the week before Election Day.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will review for a second time whether Republican legislators in Virginia drew electoral districts in the state in a way that unlawfully diluted the clout of black voters. The high court will hear an appeal by the Republican-led state House of Delegates of a June ruling by a federal three-judge panel that said the 11 state House districts in question all violated the rights of black voters to equal protection under the law under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Democrats have accused Republicans in Virginia and other states of crafting such legislative maps in a way that crams black and other minority voters into certain districts in order to reduce their overall sway in the state. When the litigation first reached the high court, the justices last year threw out an earlier lower court ruling that had found the 11 districts, as well as one other district, to be lawful. The justices said the lower court had not sufficiently analyzed the consideration of race by the Republican legislators in the process of drawing Virginia’s electoral map.
Midterm elections are just a few days away and the security of the country’s voting systems and machines will be a top priority. 10 News talked with Randy Marchany, Virginia Tech’s information technology security officer, about the possible threats on Election Day. “There’s nothing more critical in a democracy than to vote and have that vote counted accurately,” Marchany said. He said one security concern is the age of the equipment and software currently in use. “A lot of localities across the country are using voting machines that have been around for 10 years, and in computer terms, that is geologic,” Marchany said. “That is in the dinosaur age in terms of what the technology was in 2008, 2006, and this is the type of machines that are being used.”
Virginia: House GOP cancels redistricting session, says lawmakers are ‘unlikely’ to meet court’s deadline | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates have canceled a planned Oct. 21 floor session on redistricting, saying they see no point in coming to the Capitol to work on a plan Gov. Ralph Northam promised to veto. Barring unforeseen changes, the move all but guarantees that a court-appointed expert, not the General Assembly, will redraw the House map before the 2019 legislative elections in order to comply with a federal court order on racial gerrymandering. Republicans are appealing the June ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the GOP majority acknowledged for the first time Friday that Northam’s veto threat means the House won’t be able to pass a new map by the Oct. 30 deadline set by a federal court. In an update filed with the three-judge panel, Republicans said “a legislative solution is unlikely to occur” by the deadline, making the Oct. 21 session in Richmond a futile exercise.
Virginia: Election changes coming after ‘fraud’ in petitions circulated by GOP candidate’s staffers | WTOP
After a Virginia judge kicked an independent congressional candidate off the ballot due to apparent fraud driven by staffers for Republican Rep. Scott Taylor, the State Board of Elections is set to make changes Monday meant to avoid certifying certain false petitions in the future. The Department of Elections had signed off on Shaun Brown having enough valid signatures to qualify as an independent for the ballot in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in the Hampton Roads area and Eastern Shore. But an investigation by WHRO Radio then found staffers for Brown’s former opponent had collected hundreds of the signatures, many of which appeared to be faked. A judge in Richmond later found there had been “out-and-out fraud” on Brown’s petitions. The Taylor staffers signed affidavits stating they would take the fifth if they were called to testify.
Gov. Ralph Northam warned Tuesday he would veto a redistricting plan that Republicans in Virginia’s House of Delegates hope to approve this month. The lawmakers are set to consider new legislative boundaries in response to a federal court’s ruling that 11 House of Delegates districts were racially gerrymandered. House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said earlier Tuesday that he would summon lawmakers on Oct. 21 to take up a plan passed out of committee on a party-line vote last week. If the legislature fails to act by Oct. 30, judges at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia will handle the redistricting themselves.
An attempt to find a bipartisan compromise on political redistricting culminated Thursday in a pair of party-line votes by a House of Delegates committee. It endorsed a new Republican plan, while killing a bill proposed by Democrats in a battle for control of the closely divided chamber before elections next year. The House Privileges and Elections Committee voted 12-10 to endorse a bill that Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, introduced a day earlier, with a promise of some Democratic support. Jones said it was an effort to break an impasse in finding a legislative solution after a federal court found that 11 House districts were racially gerrymandered. Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler, D-Virginia Beach, one of six Democrats whom Jones said he had approached for support, voted against the bill. She also voted against a move by the Republican-controlled panel to kill the Democratic redistricting plan that Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico, had introduced on Aug. 30.
Virginia: House GOP releases redistricting proposal it says is ‘race blind’; Democrats reject it as ’empty rhetoric’ | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates unveiled their own redistricting plan Tuesday, saying their proposed map is “race blind” and would fix racial gerrymandering without giving either party a significant political advantage. The General Assembly has six weeks left to pass a new House electoral map after a federal court ruled over the summer that lawmakers unconstitutionally prioritized race during the 2011 redistricting process by drawing too many African-American voters into majority-minority districts. The 2011 map passed with bipartisan support. It remains to be seen whether the GOP-controlled legislature will pass a map before the Oct. 30 deadline set by the court. But the introduction of the Republican plan puts another option on the table ahead of a House elections committee meeting next week. The bill’s patron is Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle.