Category Archives: Electoral process

Voter Suppression in Virginia? What Voter Suppression?

by James A. Bacon

The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP has demanded that Attorney General Jason Miyares immediately replace his recently created Election Integrity Unit with a group to combat voter suppression and increase voter registration.

Said Robert N. Barnette, Jr, President of the Virginia NAACP in a statement issued last week:

Many studies have shown that “voter fraud” is virtually nonexistent in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Washington Post conducted a study that determined that only 31 out of 1 billion votes cast in the United States between 2000 and 2014 were alleged to be potentially fraudulent. The Attorney General should focus on ensuring all eligible Virginians have the right to vote and that all eligible Virginians can vote without threat of intimidation.

It may be true to say that voter fraud rarely rises to the level of changing election outcomes. However, the idea that there were only 31 fraudulent votes out of 1 billion cast is patently absurd. In an article debunking claims of widespread voter fraud, the Associated Press in December 2021 found 475 potential voter fraud cases out of 25 million votes cast. As of May 2020, the Heritage Foundation election fraud database cited 1,285 proven cases in the previous four years.

I’d like to turn the question around. How many cases of voter suppression and/or intimidation in Virginia can the NAACP cite? Continue reading

Imaginary Protection Against Imaginary Threats

Jason Miyares, Attorney General of Virginia

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Attorney General Jason Miyares has taken another step to politicize his office and the enforcement of election laws. As reported by the Virginia Mercury, Miyares has announced the formation of a 20-member “Election Integrity Unit.” The purpose of the unit is to ensure the “legality and purity” of elections.

There has been no evidence, or even credible allegations, of serious fraud in Virginia elections. However, the Attorney General seems to feel that there is a need to have 20 members of his staff working on prosecuting election fraud.

In truth, this is just a political stunt. This “unit” will not have its own budget. The members of the “unit” will not be dedicated to investigating and prosecuting fraud. Rather, the unit will consist of staff members who work on other issues, in addition to election issues. In other words, election fraud will be an incidental part of their jobs. Continue reading

Ranked Choice Voting Coming to Virginia?

by Jon Baliles

Now that state and congressional redistricting are done, the non-partisan group OneVirginia2021 that fought for years to bring sensible, fair redistricting to Virginia has rebranded its name and focus. Nonpartisan experts have generally given the resulting legislative congressional maps high marks for partisan fairness even though some unsuccessfully challenged the new maps drawn by the Supreme Court of Virginia. Regardless, redistricting is done — at least until the next redistricting. But I digress….

The newly-minted organization UpVote Virginia will now put forth as a signature issue, Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) for localities across the Commonwealth. UpVote Virginia sees it as a winning, bi-partisan issue that will produce or encourage the seeking and building of consensus among office-holders and office-seekers. Continue reading

Disin-Cline-Nation

Representative Ben Cline

by Jim McCarthy

Representative Ben Cline secured more than 80% of the votes cast in the primary in the Virginia’s 6th Congressional District. Fewer than 5% of registered voters participated, and the margin was less than 10% of the votes that elected him in 2020. Since then, the January 6 Committee has commenced its hearings. One might ask what the implication are for Cline, who voted to reject the electoral slates and popular votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania certified to the Congress.

Consider his response to an interview question from The Winchester Star shortly before the primary election.

Reporter: Do you think former President Donald Trump tried to steal the 2020 election, and what should be done about what happened on Jan. 6?

Cline: The Constitution provides that each state shall appoint its electors for president, “in such a Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” In the months preceding the 2020 election, those rules and procedures established by the state Legislatures were deliberately changed by a number of individuals, including governors, secretaries of state, elections officials, judges, and private parties. These changes were a direct violation of Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution. For this reason, I objected to the electors from those states and I stand by my objection. Continue reading

For Want of a Plaintiff

by Jim McCarthy

On June 6, 2022, one hundred or more Virginians breathed a sigh of relief that they would not be required to campaign for the House of Delegates in November 2022. A panel of federal judges dismissed a lawsuit challenging the 2021 delegate elections because the voting districts were malapportioned, i.e., the results of the 2010 census were still in play defining the populations of the 100 seats.

Since the 14th century, we have been instructed on the crucial nature of the kingdom that was lost due to the want of a nail. A more contemporary moral is related to the significance of “one person, one vote.” The panel found that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate standing to sue because he had not suffered an injury in fact within the district where he voted as required by the Constitution for a case or controversy.

Reviewing the commonwealth’s population data from the 2010 and 2020 censuses, the panel’s analysis concluded that the plaintiff’s vote in the 2021 election was cast in a district that, in fact, had fewer residents than the “ideal district.” Census figures from 2010 indicated the “ideal district” was 80,000. When the new maps were drawn by the Virginia Supreme Court subsequent to the election, the ideal district was pegged at 86,314. The plaintiff’s district prior to the redistricting was numbered at 79,611 and at 85,344 post redistricting. The chart below outlines the analysis:


Continue reading

Faithless Electors, Faithless Congresspersons

by Jim McCarthy

“With what shall I fix it, dear Liza, dear Liza, with what shall I fix it, dear Liza, with what?” May 30th is National Hole in the Bucket Day offering the states and Congress the opportunity to fix the hole in the bucket of Presidential electoral processes and procedures.

At present, members of Congress are unrestrained from voting to accept or reject the certified state electoral votes and slates of electors for the Electoral College. This hole in the bucket has largely been deflected by emphasis upon election integrity, a meme for voter fraud by the voters themselves (or, occasionally groups).

The names of presidential electors may or may not appear on the ballot in most states; voters by and large believe they are casting a vote directly for the president and vice president. The U.S. Supreme Court (Chiafalo v Washington, 2020) unanimously ruled that states have the constitutional authority to force electors to vote in accordance with their state’s popular vote. The opinion, while recognizing state power in this regard, does not require states to prevent faithless electors. At the time of the decision, 33 states, including Virginia, had adopted legislation binding electors. Continue reading

A Rebuttal Regarding Changes in Election Laws and Changes in Turnout

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Putting aside the comparison with Georgia, I want to take issue with James Sherlock’s comparison of turnout in earlier Virginia gubernatorial elections with the turnout after significant recent changes in the Commonwealth’s elections laws. First of all, comparing the 66.5% turnout in the 1989 election, in which Doug Wilder became the first Black person in the nation to be elected governor, to any other election is misleading. That was an historic event; of course there would be massive turnout.

More importantly, however, in this type of analysis, one needs to look at the relative levels of registration. Research has shown that increases in registration, especially some variant of automatic registration such as Motor Voter, do not translate into a comparable rise in turnout. In fact, they may result in a decrease in the turnout rate. If registration is relatively low, as it has been historically in Virginia, it is likely those registered are the most committed and the most likely to vote. (See here and here for more discussion of these findings.)

Comparisons of registered voters, population size, and relevant percentages provide strong evidence that recent changes in election laws helped expand the number of people participating in the 2021 gubernatorial election. Continue reading

Progressive Dogma Untethered to Results – Voter Laws Edition

by James C. Sherlock

The armies of the progressive left are what the great political scientist George Edwards called “Prisoners of Their Premises.” Many persons and institutions are captives, to a greater or lesser degree.

Lesser is better in this case. Mistakes flow from the best of intentions. You can learn from them or repeat them.

The United States military late in the Vietnam war mandated and then made a science out of analyzing its mistakes in order to learn from them.

At the unit level, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines debrief after every training and combat mission. At higher levels the reviews are periodic, but also professionally honest. Combat training schools capture, but do not enshrine those lessons. Because there is always a next time, newer equipment, newer force compositions, newer enemies and newer lessons.

It is the only way to improve systematically.

Many progressives, in solitary confinement with their dogma, are often wrong but always certain. When their policy prescriptions fail to provide the predicted results, which is most of the time, outcomes are ignored or blamed on outside factors beyond their control. Core beliefs, unchallenged, are undisturbed.

Consider for illustration recent voting law changes. Continue reading

Virginia Absentee Ballots: Absent from the State?

by Lindsey Zea

For election accountability purposes, chain of custody for ballots should be observable and publicly verifiable. So, why are two of the largest counties in Virginia, as well as other localities, planning to expand the chain of custody to include a third-party absentee-ballot processing company from Washington state that was caught red-handed ignoring the security measures built into the law?

Before 2021, absentee ballots were mailed from local registrars’ offices and processed and supervised by the registrar’s staff. In 2021, a bill (SB 1239) was passed that permits localities to hire a third-party company to print, assemble, and mail absentee ballots. Once hired, this vendor receives the name, address, precinct, district and voter ID information for individual voters. In Loudoun County, for example, the list of permanent absentee ballots that would be handed over to the private vendor would number around 15,000.

Last year, Fairfax County, the most populous county in Virginia, outsourced the printing and mailing of absentee ballots to a company called K&H located in Washington state. K&H failed to follow Virginia law. The company did not sign a legally required oath before beginning work. A public information request found that the vendor failed to comply with Virginia law and did not sign the oaths until months after the election was over. Continue reading

Intregripedia

by Jim McCarthy

Surely, at some point, an accomplished polymath will create Integripedia to provide info-hungry internet users with a comprehensive source on political integrity. Specifically, the compendium should cover the promises and pledges of political leaders as well their foibles and accomplishments and perhaps most memorable statements. For the present, however, we must rely upon Safari, Google, Bing and others to identify such topical information. Worse, we may be relying upon cable news pundits who are no longer characterizing their spiels as journalism.

At the end of April, Virginia’s youngish governor conducted a press conference to discuss his first 100 days in office and parse his administration’s accomplishments. Only a few outlets, rather unenthusiastically, reported upon the signature event. For the most part, the Governor offered that great progress has been made.

A reading of the media coverage confirms that the Governor made no mention of efforts to enhance the Commonwealth’s election integrity, as he promised during his campaign. No mention was made of his legislative amendment to restore integrity to the Loudoun County School Board which, during the campaign, he declared to be guilty of “gross negligence” and “violating the Virginia Constitution.”

Lay folk would likely agree that electoral procedures and processes should be annually administered to ensure the validity and credibility of each and every vote for each and every election. To this end, the proportions or numbers of electoral malfeasance discovered or prosecuted are vital mile posts in identifying soft spots and creating remedial measures. Continue reading

A Knee-jerk Reaction and Changes in the Wind

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There has been a kerfuffle over another one of Governor Youngkin’s appointments. Late last week, the Governor named Susan Beals to be Commissioner of the Department of Elections.

In contrast to Chris Piper, whom she will replace and who had never worked on a campaign nor donated to a political candidate, Beals has a history of working on Republican campaigns. More to the point, she previously worked as a legislative assistant to controversial Senator Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, and donated to her campaigns.

Democrats exploded. Because Chase had introduced legislation (SB 605) calling for an audit of the 2020 presidential election, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Virginia charged that Youngkin had embraced “the fringe, far-right conspiracy theories of Donald Trump and The Big Lie.” Continue reading

End the Johnnymander!

The original gerrymander

by Scott Dreyer

In March 1812, the Boston Gazette ran a cartoon showing “a new species of monster” — ”the Gerry-mander.” It made fun of a contorted voting district that the Jeffersonian Republicans had drawn up to benefit its candidates. Governor Elbridge Gerry signed off on it, and with the cartoon’s publication, a new word entered the English language. “Gerrymandering” is the process whereby politicians can influence elections based on who is voting in that district.

The Johnnymander: Virginia senate district 21

Every ten years after our nation’s new census, those in power scramble to draw new political boundaries. Because of the “one man-one vote” principle, each district should have roughly the same population as all the others. However, these districts are not to be drawn too willy-nilly. Each district is supposed to combine “communities of interest.” In other words, each district should contain people who have much in common geographically, culturally, and economically. Also, the districts are supposed to be compact and contiguous. That is, the regions are to be as small and close together as reasonably possible.

This brings us to Southwest Virginia now. Continue reading

Finally, There Are Redistricting Maps Up for Final Consideration

Congressional district map proposed by Va. Supreme Court special masters (The bubbles represent comments made by members of the public on Supreme Court interactive map)

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The two special masters appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court to assist in redistricting have accomplished in about a month what the Virginia Redistricting Commission (“the Commission”) was unable to do in about nine months:  produce single draft maps for the Congressional districts, the Senate districts, and the House of Delegates districts.

The draft maps and a long memo from the special masters explaining the process they used and the reasons for their recommendations can be found here.

An objective examination of the maps will lead to the conclusion that they are significantly more logical and sensible than the current maps or ones considered by the Commission.  The districts are compact to the extent practicable and follow lines that make sense from a communities-of-interest perspective. There are no odd-shaped districts that really stand out. Any bulges or sudden incursions into adjoining districts are the result of the population equality requirement. Splitting of counties and cities is kept to a minimum. Continue reading

Election Integrity? Not a Problem Now. We Won.

Photo credit: ABC News

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Now that the election is over, it is a good time to look at the integrity of the results.

Over the last two years, Democratic majorities in the General Assembly eased voter ID requirements, established the longest early election period in the country, and instituted “no excuse” absentee voting.

Republicans were alarmed. Donald Trump declared, “I am not a believer in the integrity of Virginia’s elections, lots of bad things went on, and are going on.”  State Senator Amanda Chase charged, “I know how Democrats are cheating, and that info has been given to the Youngkin campaign.” Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, as late as a month before the election, called for an audit of voting machines. Continue reading

Donald Trump, Please Butt Out

by James A. Bacon

Donald Trump inserted himself into the gubernatorial election today by repeating his endorsement of Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin. Nothing wrong with that. He can endorse whomever he likes. But I draw the line at this: “I am not a believer in the integrity of Virginia’s elections, lots of bad things went on, and are going on. The way you beat it is to flood the system and get out and vote.”

What factual basis does Trump have for distrusting the integrity of Virginia’s elections? What “bad things” went on? What “bad things” are still going on? He didn’t say.

While disputing 2020 election results in a dozen or more other states, Trump leveled no substantive charges against Virginia’s electoral system. I suppose he was referring today to a lawsuit charging that Fairfax County election officials with instituting a last-minute change in election procedures: Absentee voters no longer have to provide the last four digits of their social security numbers. Continue reading