A federal court on Thursday approved new district boundaries for the Virginia House of Delegates that were drawn by a court-appointed expert and are likely to benefit Democrats in November’s state election. The U.S. District Court for Eastern District of Virginia voted 2 to 1 to finalize the map, which would put six Republicans into districts that would probably become majority Democratic, according to an analysis of recent elections by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. Several of those Republicans hold leadership positions — including House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights).Full Article: Federal court approves Virginia redistricting plan - The Washington Post.
Articles about voting issues in Virginia.
Virginia elections’ next chief information officer likely had their personal information exposed, after a job posting for the position included a username and password that could be used to view applicants’ resume and personal details. The Department of Elections told WTOP Tuesday afternoon it is “taking action” to address the issue, which allowed a reporter to see names, resumes, salary information, references, education history, home addresses, emails and phone numbers of 96 people who had applied to be head IT security for Virginia elections. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, the login credentials had been deactivated. The personal information of the applicants appeared to have been exposed since the application window ended more than a week ago, although it is unclear how many people may have accessed the data. Those who applied between Jan. 17 and Feb. 3 live and work across Virginia and the country. Several have military experience or have worked as government contractors, according to the resumes, cover letters and other information they provided on the state Department of Human Resource Management’s Recruitment Management System.Full Article: Applicants of Virginia election security post had personal info exposed | WTOP.
Virginia: ‘Taking redistricting into a smoke-filled room:’ Why Democrats are pushing back on reform measure | Virginia Mercury
Virginia is closer than ever to figuring out how to fix the process of drawing voting maps, but some Democrats are backing away from the bill that would do it.
House Democrats have serious concerns about the redistricting reform bill that passed their chamber, saying it doesn’t keep legislators far enough from drawing the districts they serve. “They say it’s independent but that’s like saying up is down and left is right,” said Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico. “It takes redistricting into a smoke-filled room.” On a party-line vote, the House passed a proposal from Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, that would create a 12-member commission, with four members picked each by the speaker of the House of Delegates, the Senate Committee on Rules and the governor. The appointments would be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.Full Article: 'Taking redistricting into a smoke-filled room:' Why Democrats are pushing back on reform measure - Virginia Mercury.
As the General Assembly’s session enters its second half, both the House and Senate have passed competing plans on how to redraw legislative districts. But groups that have been fighting gerrymandering prefer the Senate’s proposal, saying it would do more to take politics out of the process. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are concerned that without the proper provisions, the General Assembly may be doomed to repeat mistakes made in 2011 when legislators gerrymandered several Virginia districts for their own benefit by diluting the voting power of African-Americans. Those districts were later struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and had to be redrawn. Some legislators say there’s an easy fix to make sure it doesn’t happen again: Create an independent commission to redraw the lines, and take the process out of the hands of politicians.Full Article: Advocates slam House GOP bill as redistricting plans advance - Fairfield Citizen.
One of the toughest things for the digital world to manage is keeping a transaction private while at the same time assuring everyone it has accurately recorded the deal. That’s what Virginia Wesleyan University mathematician Audrey Malagon, an adviser to the non-profit group Verified Voting, has been telling legislators. Her concern is with a particular transaction: voting when voters far from their polling place return their ballots electronically. Del. Nick Rush, R-Christiansburg, wants to launch a pilot program to allow military personnel serving overseas to do just that. He’s hoping the same kind of blockchain technology used in cybercurrency dealings will make it easier for them to vote. But the problem, Malagon told legislators, is preserving the anonymity of the voting booth or absentee ballot while letting both voter and vote-counter know that a vote was accurately recorded.Full Article: Electronic return of ballots worries aired - Daily Press.
Virginia: House GOP leaders endorse plan for independent redistricting commission | The Washington Post
Republican leaders of the House of Delegates have put together a plan for establishing an independent redistricting commission, aiming to change the process of drawing legislative boundaries even as they challenge a current redistricting effort in court. The plan rolled out Monday by Del. Mark L. Cole (R-Spotsylvania) and endorsed by Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) would call for an amendment to the state constitution to set up a 12-member commission appointed mostly by the legislature. The speaker of the House would appoint four members, two from each major political party, while the Senate Rules Committee and the governor would each do the same.Full Article: Virginia House GOP leaders endorse plan for independent redistricting commission - The Washington Post.
The Virginia House of Delegates voted Tuesday to require all public schools to treat Election Day as a school holiday. The bill, pitched as a school safety measure that would prevent interactions between voters and children, was approved on a 97-1 vote. “It’s impossible for the schools to properly screen each individual entering the building without slowing down the voting lines,” said Del. Paul Krizek, D-Fairfax, patron of House Bill 1752. “This creates a security concern because it potentially allows strangers unwarranted access to the school building.” Most school systems already have special schedules on Election Day that keep children at home, including the four largest school systems in the Richmond area. Under the proposed law, local school leaders would no longer have the option of keeping school buildings open to students. Only a handful of counties have chosen to continue holding classes on Election Day, but around 30 school divisions don’t have a set policy on the matter, according to Krizek.Full Article: Virginia House OKs bill requiring school holidays on Election Day | General-assembly | richmond.com.
Virginia: Federal judges choose redistricting map favorable to Democrats; six GOP House districts would get bluer | The Washington Post
Federal judges have selected a Virginia House of Delegates redistricting map that appears to heavily favor Democrats, redrawing the lines of 26 districts and moving several powerful Republicans into unfavorable configurations. Six Republicans would wind up in districts where a majority of voters chose Democratic President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, according to an analysis of the maps by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. No current Democrats would see their voter majority change to Republican, based on those election results. Virginia does not register voters by party. If the court’s map selection stands, it would create a favorable environment for Democrats seeking to take control of the House of Delegates in elections this fall, according to the analysis. All 100 seats in the House are on the ballot, and Republicans hold a 51-to-48 majority.Full Article: Federal judges choose Va. redistricting map favorable to Democrats; six GOP House districts would get bluer - The Washington Post.
Virginia: Lawmakers consider creating new job protections for election officials to prevent political firings | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A bill to create new job protections for the local officials who run elections is advancing in the General Assembly with the support of Virginia registrars who say their livelihoods can be threatened for political or personal reasons. House Bill 2034, patroned by Del. John McGuire, R-Henrico, would require local electoral boards to remove registrars through the court system. Currently, two of three electoral board members can decide to oust a registrar with a majority vote, a system some registrars say jeopardizes the independence of election officials who are supposed to remain above the political fray. Because registrars can be removed at will, they don’t have access to government legal resources if their jobs are on the line. If fired registrars want to challenge their terminations in court, they have to use their own money to hire a lawyer. “It’s not fair that just…. I don’t like the way you wear your jacket and you’re gone,” McGuire said. “This is America.”Full Article: Virginia lawmakers consider creating new job protections for election officials to prevent political firings | General-assembly | richmond.com.
As Virginia lawmakers get started on the 2019 session of the General Assembly, an unlikely bipartisan duo has a proposal to fix gerrymandering in the commonwealth. Senator Emmett Hanger, a Republican representing Augusta County in the Shenandoah Valley, and Senator Mamie Locke, a Democrat representing Hampton in the Eastern Shore, have joined forces to propose a bill that would take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and create an independent commission of citizens tasked with drawing election boundaries. “You can’t take politics out of the redistricting process, it’s political in nature, but you can set up a process if our constitution allows it,” Senator Hanger told us.Full Article: Virginia senators introduce bipartisan amendment to change redistricting.
For now, Virginia will remain among a trio of states — joining only Kentucky and Iowa — with a lifetime ban on voting rights for people convicted of a felony. On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections killed an attempt to allow Virginians who have been convicted of a felony to vote. Currently, the Virginia Constitution says felons cannot vote unless their civil rights have been restored by the governor or other authorities. Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, proposed a resolution — SJ 261 — to delete that passage from the state Constitution. On an 8-6 vote at the committee’s meeting on Wednesday, Locke’s proposed constitutional amendment was “passed by indefinitely,” meaning that it likely is dead for this legislative session. The vote was split down party lines on the 14-member committee, with all eight Republicans voting to kill the measure.Full Article: Amendment to restore Virginia felons’ voting rights dies along party lines | WTKR.com.
Proposals to limit corporate money in politics and personal use of campaign funds, along with bills to expand absentee voting or address problems with incorrectly assigned voters that wreaked havoc on Virginia’s 2017 elections, are set to be considered by the Virginia General Assembly in the session that begins Wednesday. Redistricting changes are a key issue this year, since any significant change to policy would require an amendment to the state constitution be approved by both this year’s session and the next, before sending it to Virginia voters in 2020. Proposals meant to remedy voters being assigned to the wrong districts would require additional reviews and attempts to restrict the number of precincts split between multiple legislative districts.Full Article: Money in politics, voting, term limits among 2019 Va. elections bills | WTOP.
Virginia: U.S. Supreme Court rejects Republican bid to delay redistricting in Virginia | The Washington Post
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to delay the process of drawing new districts for at least 11 Virginia House of Delegates seats, rejecting a request for a stay from state Republicans who are contesting the overall effort. A panel of judges from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled last June that the districts had been racially gerrymandered to concentrate black voters and ordered a new map. Most of the affected districts are in the Hampton Roads and Richmond areas. After the General Assembly failed to agree on a redistricting plan last fall, the judges appointed an outside expert to handle it. California professor Bernard Grofman submitted a 131-page report last month outlining options for new boundaries.Full Article: U.S. Supreme Court rejects Republican bid to delay redistricting in Virginia - The Washington Post.
Virginia: Northam proposes repeal of Virginia’s voter ID requirement, reform campaign finance laws | WTVR
In an effort to remove barriers to voting, Governor Ralph Northam is proposing a repeal of the law that requires Virginians to show a photo ID when they vote. “Participation makes our democracy strong—we should encourage every eligible voter to exercise this fundamental right, rather than creating unnecessary barriers that make getting to the ballot box difficult,” said Governor Northam. The legislation will be patroned by Senator Mamie Locke and Delegate Kaye Kory. Kory said lawmakers should protect the constitutional right of every American citizen, not inventing ways to keep voters away from the polls. “The photo ID requirement prevents the most vulnerable Virginians from voting and silences the voices of those who most need to be heard,” said Kory.Full Article: Northam proposes repeal of Virginia’s voter ID requirement, reform campaign finance laws | WTVR.com.
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.Full Article: Court clerk: Virginia Beach recount process begins in ‘organized chaos’ | Southside Daily.
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.Full Article: Va. House GOP asks U.S. Supreme Court to stop new electoral map | Virginia Politics | richmond.com.
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.Full Article: Virginia officials to review issues, voter turnout for midterm election.
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.Full Article: U.S. top court to review Virginia voting districts in race case | Reuters.
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.”Full Article: Old software, equipment create Election Day security concerns.
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.Full Article: Va. House GOP cancels redistricting session, says lawmakers are 'unlikely' to meet court's deadline | Virginia Politics | richmond.com.