Category Archives: Electoral process

Campaign Finance Reform in Virginia – the New Governor Must Lead

by James C. Sherlock

I consider campaign finance reform the foremost issue facing representative government in Virginia.

We are one of only a few states with no campaign donations limits at all. We pay for that in legislation enacted and not enacted because of the preferences of huge donors. And in the stink of legal public corruption.

It also drives way up the cost of running and keeps good people from participating.

The new governor will have to lead. Continue reading

Maybe the Redistricting Commission is Working Out After All

These maps compare the existing state Senate districts in Northern Virginia with one of two draft maps submitted to the Virginia Redistricting Commission. Source: The Virginia Mercury

In two recent articles in Bacon’s Rebellion, Dick Hall-Sizemore has thoroughly documented the sausage-making that has gone into the Virginia Redistricting Commission. It’s ugly, and it’s discouraging, and makes you wonder if there is any hope for humanity. But the release of two draft maps shows what the new districts could look like. The maps above, taken from The Virginia Mercury, show a proposed re-write of state senatorial districts in Northern Virginia that was submitted to the Commission.

It is a thing of beauty.

Without knowing the partisan implications — do the new boundaries throw incumbent legislators in the same district, do Republicans or Democrats gain ground or lose it? — who wouldn’t prefer the redrawn districts? Who wouldn’t prefer a system where the citizens pick their representatives over one where the politicians pick their citizens?


Update: The Virginia Public Access Project reproduces the Republican and Democratic drafts for both Senate and House districts here.

Paperwork Is for the Little People


by Donald Smith

This is a story of two political candidates, from two different parties, and the standard that should –but almost assuredly won’t — be applied to both.

The candidates are Terry McAuliffe, Democrat, running for governor of Virginia in 2021, and Nick Freitas, Republican, running for the House of Delegates in 2019.

The standard is that candidates in Virginia elections have to satisfy state requirements for filling out key paperwork.

In 2019, Nick Freitas didn’t. From the Washington Post, July 26th 2019.

State election officials said his local Republican legislative committee never submitted a required form indicating Freitas was the party’s nominee. The state said another form, which Freitas personally should have filed, was also missing.

Freitas was forced to run as a write-in candidate. (He won).

Apparently, in 2021, Terry McAuliffe has his own paperwork problems. From the AP: Continue reading

Election Law Changes: Sept. 17 is Now Key Date

Photo from Henrico Citizen

by Steve Haner

If the current COVID-19 surge continues into the fall, and Governor Ralph Northam once again declares a health emergency, absentee ballots returned by mail will not need a witness signature. Now it will be by General Assembly fiat, not a judge’s order.

That alone ought to motivate a bunch of hesitant Republicans to rush out and get their vaccines to crush this surge. It is probably the same subset of people who continue to simmer over all the election law changes that were pushed through as “temporary” pandemic adjustments, and now are considered sacred and untouchable human rights. Continue reading

Can Poll Workers Halt Maskless People from Voting?

Rob Schilling, conservative talk show host on WINA. Photo credit: The Schilling Show

by James A. Bacon

On June 8, Rob Schilling walked into the Woodbrook precinct of Albemarle County to cast a vote in the Democratic Party primary. A talk show host on WINA radio, he was well-known locally as a conservative — there aren’t many in the area, so he stands out — but under Virginia law he has the right to vote in any primary he chooses. More problematic, he wasn’t wearing a mask.

Local poll worker Leo Mallek, who was wearing a blue surgical mask, stopped Schilling in the corridor leading to the room with the voting machines and told him to cover his face. Schilling refused and tried to enter the room to vote. One poll worker attempted to physically block him and grabbed his arm; another touched his shoulder to guide him out of the voting area. After a dispute lasting roughly four minutes, Schilling was allowed to vote.

On June 21, he filed a lawsuit against the poll workers and Albemarle County Registrar Jake Washburn alleging assault, battery and the violation of his voting rights. “What happened to me was beyond atrocious,” said Schilling in a press release. “Albemarle County voters should never face intimidation, harassment, and physical assault by elections officials when attempting to cast a ballot. These egregious violations of my rights, all captured on video, must be legally rectified.” Continue reading

Clean Virginia Dissed Again, Dem Takes Dom Cash

An image of Hala Alaya’s answer to a question on Clean Virginia’s candidate questionnaire, released by it in response to her breaking of that pledge.

by Steve Haner

Prince William Democrat Hala Ayala, who had pledged not to accept campaign contributions from Dominion Energy Virginia and took money instead from its opponents, has now accepted $100,000 from the regulated monopoly. Heads are exploding.

Del. Haya Ayala, D-Prince William

The anti-Dominion activist group Clean Virginia had given her $25,000 in her bid for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.  Now is has announced it will dump $125,000 into a last-ditch digital campaign to defeat her in the June 8 primary. Early voting in the primary has been underway for weeks, however. Early voters upset by this cannot call their ballots back.

Final pre-primary finance reports were released early in the week and word of the contribution quickly hit the Twitterverse, then sparked stories in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch and Virginia Mercury. Continue reading

Democrats Fight Back as Boss Bills Cracks Whip

Michael Bills

by Steve Haner

Two Virginia Democrats who have been loyal soldiers in the army to turn Virginia green as well as blue are under attack in the June 8 primary for the sin of accepting campaign donations from Dominion Energy. It doesn’t matter to the attacker – our old friend Clean Virginia — that Dominion is moving in lockstep with the Democrats to undermine Virginia’s reliable generation mix and replace it with expensive and unreliable renewable power.

The House Democratic Caucus is responding by attacking the “dark money billionaires” who are going after their colleagues. Who? By that they would have to mean that same Clean Virginia, funded mainly by the personal fortune of hedge fund mogul Michael Bills and his wife. The same two people who did more than anybody to give Democrats that majority in the first place.

More proof, in case you needed it, that it is not your enemies you need to watch in politics but your friends. The Democrats started to lose their grip on this state 20-30 years ago because in their lust for power they fell out among themselves, and here we go again. Bring popcorn.

The basics: Delegates Steve Heretick, D-Portsmouth and Candi Mundon King, D-Prince William, face primary challengers. The primary challengers have received major funding from something new called Commonwealth Forward PAC. But as The Virginia Star reported this morning, its money actually comes from Bills and Clean Virginia.  Continue reading

Cox First to Appeal for Second Choice Votes

Former Speaker Kirk Cox. (Photo credit: Roanoke Times.)

by Steve Haner

Former House Speaker Kirk Cox is the first of the GOP candidates for Governor to take the expected step of asking explicitly for second choice votes.

“Delegates, the Republican convention is fast approaching,” he says in new video message.

“The Republican nomination for Governor has been spirited. Look, I understand I might not be everyone’s first choice. If I’m not your first choice, I’d really appreciate you putting me down as your second.”   Continue reading

How Not to Build a Big Tent

Still working on that big tent

by James A. Bacon

American Jews belonging to the Reform and Conservative movements within Judaism back Democrats in overwhelming numbers. Ultra-Orthodox Jews skew strongly Republican. But there is a swing vote within U.S. Judaism: Modern Orthodox Jews. While a slim majority identify as Democrat, liberal or progressive, 37% describe themselves as Republican, conservative, or libertarian, according to Jacob Magid with The Times of Israel.

America’s 300,000 Modern Orthodox Jews comprise a swing vote. “You can’t assume a shul is completely Democrat or completely Republican,” Magid quotes  Maharat Ruth Balinksy of the Ohev Shalom Modern Orthodox synagogue in Washington as saying. “It speaks to the general identity of Modern Orthodoxy, whose members find themselves in both the religious and secular worlds.”

It is incomprehensible to me that the Republican Party leaders setting up the rules for the May 8 nominating convention spurned a pleas by four rabbis to let Orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists and others who observe the Saturday Sabbath vote absentee. Continue reading

GOP and Virginia Election Laws, Part II

Sunday “Souls to Polls” voting is legal in Virginia now? Impossible to predict which political party will benefit more from that.

by Steve Haner

With the 2021 General Assembly receding in the rear view mirror, the voting rules for this year’s Virginia elections are set. Republicans who are whining that the deck has been stacked against them are making a mistake. Every change the Democrats see as a benefit to them is of equal benefit to Republicans.  Continue reading

GOP and Virginia Election Laws, Part I

by Steve Haner

Let us elevate a discussion from the comment string to the main page:  Having examined Richard Hall-Sizemore’s offered examples of Virginia Republicans seeking to discourage voting in Virginia, I reject his assertion (part of a coordinated national campaign) that those bills “would result in fewer people voting.”

The broadest Republican bill he pointed to, Senate Bill 1459 offered by Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment, R-James City, basically returned voting rules to the situation in 2019.  It restored the requirement for photo identification, with the option of a provisional ballot.  With a provisional ballot allowed, how would that “result in fewer people voting?” Continue reading

How to Rig the Redistricting Process with Nobody Noticing

Prison population. Source: Virginia Public Access Project

by James A. Bacon

While Virginia Democrats continue to batter Republicans with charges of “voter suppression,” they also continue to rig the electoral system to favor Democrats.

The national Census counts incarcerated persons at the correctional facilities where they are held. But a new Virginia law requires the state Redistricting Commission to assign prison inmates to their last known residential address, a move that will, in the words of the Virginia Public Access Project, “transfer political clout from rural to urban areas.” Unstated is the fact that it will also transfer political clout from Republican areas to Democratic areas.

The residence of an estimated 20,000 prisoners will be affected. Continue reading

Voter Suppression? Who? Us?

Click for more legible image.

Here’s what’s happening in Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial fund-raising fever dreams:

Republican candidate Pete [Snyder] announced his campaign is launching a Trump-style voter suppression operation. … And they’re hiring Trump-lackey Ken Cuccinelli to run it. … Pete Snyder is tapping Ken to run the same kind of racist, anti-democratic voter suppression operation Donald Trump ran.

And here’s what’s actually happening in the real world. From The Washington Free Beacon:

Virginia’s Department of Elections shut down its voter information portal for “scheduled maintenance” during the final day Republican voters in the commonwealth’s largest county were able to register for the party’s upcoming convention.

Continue reading

Virginia Democrats Govern in the Service of Dogma and Power

by James C. Sherlock

Karl Marx

Socialism and communism are so 19th and 20th centuries.  

Under socialism, individuals would still own property. But industrial production, which was the chief means of generating wealth, was to be communally owned and managed by a democratically elected government.

Socialists sought change and reform, but sought to make those changes through democratic processes within the existing social and political structure, not to overthrow that structure.  Socialism was to be based on the consent of the governed. Communism sought the elimination of personal property and the violent overthrow of existing social and political structures.

So what has changed for today’s progressives who have taken over the Democratic party, especially in Virginia? 

A lot. Continue reading

Remember the 38th!

T. Travis Hackworth

Congratulations to the citizens of the 38th state senatorial district — you have been re-enfranchised. Republican T. Travis Hackworth handily won the special election to replace former Sen. Ben Chafin, who died in January, garnering 76% of the vote.

Better late than never, I suppose. But due to Governor Ralph Northam’s failure (or refusal) to schedule a special election immediately after Chafin’s death, Hackworth was not instated until after the 2021 General Assembly session, one of the most consequential of recent legislatures in years. Hacksworth’s absence gave Democrats a 21 to 18 margin in the Senate instead of a 20 to 19 margin, meaning that it took two middle-of-the-road Democrats to side with Republicans instead of one to block the Northam administration’s left-wing agenda. Continue reading