Category Archives: Electoral process

The Systemic Racism of Monument Avenue

By Peter Galuszka

Richmond’s grand Monument Avenue, a double lane, tree lined thoroughfare, has been the epicenter of the Black Lives Matter campaign that has focused on the statues of several Confederate figures one the road, including Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis.

All are up for removal, but the same foot-dragging that has for years protected the statues that some consider racist is at work today. Protestors have torn down Davis and have defaced the rest. On Sunday night, they nearly ripped down the Stuart statue as two city council members urged that it be removed on an emergency basis.

Lee’s statue has been ordered down by Gov. Ralph Northam, but the effort has been tied up in lawsuits by several property owners. One claims either that the original deed that gave the state the site for Lee included language that it could not be removed. Other plaintiffs, most anonymous,  claim that removing the statues would hurt their property values and their special tax status.

If anything smacks of white privilege and entitlement, this is it. But for more perspective, this article in The Atlantic neatly sums up the history behind the statues and the Avenue, noting that the issue has everything to do with rewriting Richmond’s history and making a marketing play to sell expensive and exclusive real estate decades after the Confederacy was suppressed. Continue reading

Libertarians Need Not Apply

By Peter Galuszka

The Virginia Republican Party had a big shock Saturday.

Far-right candidate Bob Good snatched the party’s nomination in the fifth congressional district from incumbent Denver Riggleman, who was backed by President Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of Liberty University.

The remarkable twist could presage an arch-conservative backlash against Trump’s populism in the run up to elections this November.

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato tweeted early Sunday morning that “the Virginia GOP has gone so far to the right that a congressman backed by (Trump and Falwell) isn’t conservative enough to renominate.”

The 5th District includes the cities of Lynchburg and Charlottesville and covers broad swaths of highly socially conservative rural areas. Riggleman’s problem was that he had Libertarian tendencies and had officiated at a gay wedding. Continue reading

Absentee Voting by Mail Has Many Safeguards

by Rosanna Bencoach

In a recent piece in Bacon’s Rebellion, “COVID-19 No Justification for Mail-In Voting,” Brian Glass questioned the security of mail-in voting by citing controversies in other states during previous elections.

The underlying issues and outcomes varied but did not cast doubt on the entire system. As Dick Hall-Sizemore commented:

Voting by mail is not inherently subject to greater levels of fraud. The states of Oregon and Washington have had voting by mail for years. In the 2016 election, there were 54 causes of voter fraud in Oregon. Washington experienced 142 cases in the 2018 election. There have to be safeguards built in to voting by mail or absentee voting programs. For example, the idea of one person collecting the votes of many others in order to take them to the polling place (“ballot harvesting”) easily lends itself to fraud and should not be allowed.

In Virginia, absentee voting is conducted by mail and in the Voter Registrar’s office, and must begin by the 45th day before each general election or primary. Absentee voting requires an application from the voter, stating a legally acceptable reason to vote absentee (travel, illness, etc.) Continue reading

COVID-19 No Justification for Mail-In Voting

by Brian Glass

With the COVID-19 epidemic, adherents of mail-in voting in Virginia and around the country believe they have found the “hook” to pass their favored legislation. That idea needs to be revisited before the primary elections in June and the presidential election in November. Regardless of the epidemic, voting by mail is still a bad idea.

In the 2017 Dallas, Tex., City Council election, there were approximately 700 fraudulent mail-in ballots signed by the same person. The number of fraudulent ballots were larger than the difference in the vote tally in one of he races.

In the 2018 North Carolina gubernatorial election, 61% of mail-in ballots favored the Republican candidate even though registered Republicans accounted for only 19% of those who requested mail-in ballots. The Republican won by a 905-vote margin. The results were thrown out and a new election resulted in the election of a Democratic governor.

In 2016, 83 registered voters in San Pedro, Calif., received ballots at the same address, an apartment complex. Continue reading

Beware Fake Tweets

The Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, Russia

By Peter Galuszka

Around midnight Monday, reporters in downtown Washington D.C., stood by ready to cover the next round of protests about the slaying of African Americans by police.

They started getting tweets marked #dcblackout suggesting that internet service was being interrupted because of a secret program presumably run by the government that would cut them off.

The curious thing, NBC News reported, is that the reporters’ cell phones worked just fine. Later Twitter was contacted and began to investigate. It was curious that the questionable tweet seemed to be coming from the left-wing ANTIFA group that is said to have helped organize protests around the country.

A tweet labeled as been sourced with ANTIFA proclaimed “Tonight’s the night, comrades. Tonight we say F&*^The city and we move into the residential areas, the white hoods and we take what’s ours.”

Twitter quickly uncovered the problem. The tweets were fakes put out by a far-right white nationalist group called Identity Evropa. Twitter took down the sites because they violated the company’s policy against using social media to incite violence, NBC reported. Continue reading

The Real Danger with ANTIFA

By Peter Galuszka

Get ready. The names of all kinds of leftist organizations are going to be kicked around as the masterminds behind violent, cop-beating looters, especially the so-called ANTIFA movement in Virginia and across the country..

But what is reality? I don’t have clear answers but I have some ideas to share since I have been dealing with activist groups since I was in high school in the late 1960s. I hope they help this blog’s discussion.

First, there’s plenty of research available about ANTIFA and there are already plenty of reports about it. It is not a single group but a very loose collection of autonomous activist groups, most of which do not advocate violence. For reference, see yesterday’s Daily Beast piece with the blunt headline, “Trump’s ‘ANTIFA Threat Is Total Bullshit – And Totally Dangerous.”

That article and plenty of others note that ANTIFA, or whatever it is, has no clear chain of command and uses ultra-fast social media to alert other activists about rallies and protests but has no control over them. If you are thinking about the tightly-controlled and secretive Communist cells of the past century, you are not getting it. Continue reading

Trailing Candidates Should Bail Out, Void Primary

By Steve Haner

More often than not, the suspense in an election is over long before the polls open. That is the case with the two primary contests which will require me to sit in a polling place all day on June 23. The expected losers should just drop out now and save us all the risk.

The precinct where I work has both a Republican and a Democratic contest scheduled, which will require my co-workers and me to be at the polling station from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. Based on what happened in the local elections yesterday, it will mostly be voting from cars – in a location with very little parking.  Continue reading

WTJU Podcast: COVID-19 and the Economy

By Peter Galuszka

Here’s is the twice-monthly podcast produced by WTJU, the official radio station of the University of Virginia. With me on this podcast  are Nathan Moore, the station general manager, and Sarah Vogelsong, who covers, labor, energy and environmental issues across the state for the Virginia Mercury, a fairly new and highly regarded non-profit news outlet. Our topic is how Virginia is handling the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Move 2020 Nomination Deadline To Late Summer

By Steve Haner

A week after the March 3 Democratic presidential primary I was sick, probably with a cold but I had to wonder. No fever developed and patent medicines got me through. But it could have been COVID-19 after checking in hundreds of voters in the Maple Street Firehouse.

There is no way I’m repeating that activity on June 9. Thank you, Governor Ralph Northam, for saving me from having to abandon the other nice folks who work that precinct. Even if we are on the infection down slope, holding a primary that day is a risk we don’t need to impose on those volunteers.

Republican officials exploded when the stay at home directive was advanced to June 10. A statement released by the Republican Party of Virginia whined:

“… the timeline seems all too convenient,” said RPV Chairman Jack Wilson. “We ask that Governor Northam show us the data that led to his decision. It is not our opinion that the Governor is purposefully engaging in voter suppression, but an explanation would help to mitigate any concerns.”

Did my statement mitigate your concerns, Jack? I bet thousands of poll workers feel the same way.

Let’s drop the debate over which elected official or cabinet agency is more hapless and focus on some truly clueless people – this state’s all but dead Republican Party. Yesterday the state party certified three candidates to run June 9 seeking the nomination against Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia. Don’t look at the story yet, can you name one of them? I cannot. And I would love to see somebody give Warner a race. People forget how close Ed Gillespie came to beating Mark-not-John six years ago.  Continue reading

State Senate Saves the Commonwealth. Again.

by Kerry Dougherty

Here’s a morsel of good news from Richmond: Virginia will not be joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact movement.

This year, anyway.

For the second time in 10 days a State Senate committee saved us from extreme bills that had already passed the drunk-with-power House of Delegates.

First, it was the vague assault weapons bill, which would have turned thousands of law-abiding Virginia gun owners into felons. That proposal was scrapped, thanks to four bold Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who sided with their GOP colleagues.

This week, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee tabled — for this session, anyway –– HB177, a measure that would have relinquished Virginia’s sovereignty to California and New York by awarding our electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote in presidential elections. Continue reading

Electoral College Vote, Carbon Tax, Labor’s Wants

By Steve Haner

The End of the Electoral College Looms

The legislature’s new ruling Democrats, having celebrated their adoption of the national Equal Rights Amendment, may continue their Constitutional aspirations next week and try to kill the federal Electoral College. Some believe the will of Virginia voters in choosing presidential electors should be overridden by the popular vote total in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia combined.

This idea is known at the National Popular Vote. Objections to the Electoral College process have a long history but were reignited when former Senator Hillary Clinton became the fifth presidential candidate who won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. As predicted by Bacon’s Rebellion, the proposal to grant Virginia’s votes to the national front runner is back in three bills, with far longer lists of patrons and co-patrons. The two House bills are here and here, and the Senate version here. All now rest with firmly Democratic Privileges and Elections committees.  Continue reading

Fairfax County Has More Registered Voters than Adults Old Enough to Vote

Be sure to vote — but in only one jurisdiction!

More Northern Virginia news you will never read in the Washington Post… Fairfax County has a registration rate of 105%, according to conservative activist group Judicial Watch. In other words, the number of voter registrations exceeds the number of citizens in the county old enough to  vote.

During the last reporting period, the county removed only 5,800 voter registrations per year due to failure of registrants to respond to address-confirmation notices and failure to vote in two consecutive elections. “This is a very low number of removals for a county of this size,” said Judicial Watch in a letter to Gary D. Scott, the county registrar and director of elections. (The county population is about 1.15 million.)

Judicial Watch is not alleging that any voter fraud has occurred. Rather, the organization contends that Fairfax County is failing to comply with federal law. Continue reading

California Too Conservative for Some Virginia Dems

Left turn ahead — sharp left turn.

by Hans Bader

To some Americans, staunchly progressive California may seem too liberal. But not to Virginia’s Democratic legislators. They’re proposing legislation that would make Virginia more liberal than California. That includes letting murderers vote while in prison, and letting them be paroled even if a court has sentenced them to life without parole.

Virginia legislators have proposed allowing even the worst criminals to seek parole — such as a person convicted of murder who tortured his victim to death — even if a court sentenced them to life in prison at a time when parole did not exist. Virginia abolished parole in 1995, due to discontent over the fact that criminals were serving only about 30% of their sentences before being released.

But parole would be made available to even the worst murderers by a recently introduced bill, SB 91. It would retroactively extend parole rights to current inmates, as well as giving future criminals the right to seek parole. Most willful and premeditated murders are Class 2 offenses under Virginia law, for which parole would be available after 15 years. Continue reading

A Dialogue on Money in Virginia Politics

Jeff Thomas: Thank you for having me to Bacon’s Rebellion, Jim. I’m a longtime reader, first-time poster. Money in Virginia politics is an important topic on which I think we both agree, and I’m eager to hear your take on it. As I understand it, we’ll each answer and ask a question of the other within a 500-word limit. So let me begin.

What would be the rules for your ideal campaign finance system in Virginia?

Jim Bacon: Jeff, I’m delighted to engage in this exchange. As author of “The Virginia Way: Democracy and Power after 2016,” you are one of the few writers to take a deep interest in Virginia’s political economy, genuinely trying to understand the sources and distribution of power at the state/local level. Hopefully, this dialogue will prove illuminating.

Like you and many others, I find the role of money in politics to be disturbing. It is deeply unfair that the rich and powerful can buy more political influence through campaign contributions than ordinary citizens. But unfairness is part of the human condition. The question is whether the cure is worse than the disease. I do not believe in restricting campaign contributions, even if it means giving a billionaire California liberal like Tom Steyer and his NextGen Climate Action group (more than $3.7 million in the past few years) a bigger voice in Virginia politics than a life-long resident like myself. The Constitution gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and the right to petition government, and I regard the donation of money to political candidates as an extension of both those rights. Continue reading

Sanctimonious Money in Politics

Grrrrr

The older I get, the more irritable I get. Perhaps, upon passing the threshold to Medicare eligibility, I became a cranky old man. In my defense, however, I do find myself continually provoked. The latest vexation comes from a Community Idea Stations article describing how an increasing number of Democratic Party candidates for General Assembly are self-righteously turning down campaign donations from corporations — not just Dominion Energy, mind you, but any corporation. One example:

Zachary Brown, a law student at the University of Richmond who is running against Eileen Bedell and Ghazala Hashmi in the 10th Senate District, only raised around $2,000 in April and May. But the 23-year-old law student says he came by it honestly.

“We can’t have our constituents second-guessing out votes because we take contributions from large corporations,” Brown said.

Such sentiments are consistent with Democrats’ conviction that the injection of corporate cash is a uniquely corrupting practice. Labor union money, extracted from union dues for causes members may or may not agree with… perfectly OK. Money laundered through Democratic Party PACs… just fine. Contributions from out-of-state billionaires like Tom Steyer… not a problem. But money collected from individual employees in a corporation and bundled through a corporate PACs… horrors! Continue reading