by Kerry Dougherty
They think they’re so clever. Richmond Democrats, that is.
They believe that by forcing Virginia Beach to adopt a ward voting system – without first bothering to find out what the people want – they can turn the city council blue.
What other reason could there possibly be for passing a bill — on a party-line vote — that appears to affect only one city in the commonwealth?
But not so fast, Democrats.
A ward system also favors underfunded grassroots candidates with devoted followers who are willing to invest shoe leather in a campaign. You know, tea party types. Careful what you wish for.
Let’s back up.
Del. Marcus Simon
Photo credit: Bob Brown/AP
By Dick Hall-Sizemore
Virginia law prohibits a candidate for public office from converting “excess” campaign funds to her personal use when closing out her campaign finance account. However, there is nothing to prevent a candidate from using campaign funds for personal, non-campaign related, purposes during a campaign.
Ever since his first General Assembly session (2014), Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, has introduced legislation to prohibit any personal use of campaign funds. Year after year, the bill died, with no recorded vote, until the 2019 session, when subcommittee votes were required to be recorded. That year, the bill died, 4-3, in subcommittee, with the four votes against it cast by Republicans. Last year, the bill was carried over again. Continue reading
by Kerry Dougherty
Every once in a while – not often, rarely in fact – you see a common sense bill in the General Assembly and think to yourself, “No one could oppose this.”
That was the case with SB1422, a measure introduced by Virginia Beach State Sen. Jen Kiggans. She calls it her “Election Accuracy Bill.”
I call it the “Dead-People-Don’t-Vote Bill.”
It was quite simple.
The bill would require the State Registrar of Vital Records to send the Department of Elections a weekly list of people over the age of 17 who died during the previous seven days. Currently, this list is transmitted monthly.
The bill would also require the voter registrars to use this information to purge the names of the deceased from the voter roles.
Keeping voter registration lists current and accurate is a good thing, no? Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
First, we present this news item from the Roanoke Times, headlined, “Democrats push to preserve pandemic voting access measures.”
After the November election, legislators knew changes to Virginia’s election laws were in order. Democrats and Republicans had differing views of what those changes should be. Encouraged by a presidential election with high voter turnout, Democrats are working to codify many of the changes the state put into place for the pandemic that broadened ballot access. At the same time, they are chastising Republicans who want to roll back those changes on the basis of restoring “election integrity,” saying they shouldn’t cast doubt on voting measures that don’t contribute to widespread fraud. (My bold)
See what has happened? Democrats have moved the goalpost. Now election integrity is reason for concern only when there is “widespread” voting fraud. Presumably, the definition of “widespread” is a sufficient level of fraud to disconcert Democrats. The Trumpistas made “election integrity” a running gag line with claims that the presidential election was “stolen,” and Democrats are taking full advantage of insanity on the Right to push their agenda for loosening election rules. But just because election fraud didn’t rise to the level of altering the election in 2020 doesn’t mean that election integrity is a phony issue. Which brings us to this headline… Continue reading
The status of the National Popular Vote Compact, which goes into effect once enough states have signed on to let the national totals determine their electoral votes.
By Steve Haner
As I’ve explained too many times to people who won’t believe it, President Joe Biden won Nov. 3. While there remains no evidence of widespread fraud or error, election law changes achieved by Democrats in key states were a major contributing factor to that outcome.
That transformation started here in Virginia in 2020, was boosted by the pandemic, and is continuing into the 2021 General Assembly. Here are some of the key proposals pending which Democrats believe – with reason – will bolster their electoral successes. I also point to a good idea to restore public confidence, which they quickly defeated. These are just some on an incredible list of election bills this year, and that list seems to miss some. Continue reading
Northam’s opening words in his state-of-the-commonwealth address: “The chamber looks pretty good from up here, doesn’t it? You know, it’s a proud moment to look out and see a General Assembly that reflects more than ever the Virginia that we see every day.” The 200,000 citizens of Southwest Virginia’s 38th senatorial district whom Northam deprived of representation might beg to differ.
by James A. Bacon
When Governor Ralph Northam delivered his state-of-the-commonwealth speech two days ago, he gave a special nod to Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Russell County, who had died several days previously from complications relating to COVID-19. “He was my friend, and I miss him,” Northam said. “Whether on the Senate floor or in my office, his presence always brightened my day.”
“I hope that fond memories of Ben will help his family through these difficult times,” he added. “I ask you to join me in a moment of silence to honor Ben, and everyone who has lost their lives to COVID-19.” Then he briefly waxed philosophical. The epidemic, he said, has made everyone stop and ask some basic questions. “What’s really important? What do I believe in? Am I taking actions that reflect my values?”
One of the actions the Governor should be questioning is whether he honored Chafin’s memory by delaying the election of his successor until March 23 — after the General Assembly, effectively depriving the residents of Chafin’s district of representation during the 2021 session.
Equity was a big theme of Northam’s speech. Virginia needs to take steps to ensure more equity in public health, in education, in criminal justice, and in voting rights, he said. Indeed, one of his signature initiatives this session is changing the state constitution to provide automatic restoration of voting rights to felons. The concern for equity apparently does not extend, however, to the members of Chafin’s Republican-leaning district in impoverished Appalachia. Continue reading
The state ends at Roanoke. It’s a long way from Clintwood, county seat of Dickenson County on the Kentucky border, to Richmond. Seven other state capitals are closer. As an old saying goes, “The people in Richmond think the state ends at Roanoke.” There has been nothing in recent events to dissuade them from that sentiment. An election to replace state Sen. Ben Chafin, who died of COVID-related illness, won’t take place until after the 2021 General Assembly session, effectively depriving tens of thousands of voters in the coalfield county and neighboring jurisdictions of representation during what is shaping up to be a consequential session. What was it that Thomas Jefferson said in his bill of complaints about the tyrannical King George? Ah, yes, “He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected.” Meanwhile, fearing potential violence, state officials are closing Capitol Square in Richmond to the public Monday, a day when constituents customarily lobby lawmakers. Gun-rights activists not welcome.
Your public servants at work. Bruce Biondo, manager of the Virginia Rider Training Program in the Department of Motor Vehicles, has been sentenced to two years and four months in prison. Bondo admitted to receiving $89,000 and the use of a Ford F-450 pickup truck in exchange for helping one company win a motorcycle-rider training contract worth $4.1 million and another a $135,000 contract, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I suspect there’s a whole lot more skullduggery in DMV contracts. An all-day driver-safety program I attended to avoid getting a speeding ticket was a joke, and I experienced endless frustration dealing with a state-approved driver-training program that enrolled my son. I have long suspected that the administration of contracts and licensure is rife with cronyism. The Bondo sentencing confirms my suspicions.
We want you back, but mostly we want your money. Virginia Tech students will return to the Blacksburg campus for the spring semester, but only 6% of classes will be held in-person, reports the Roanoke Times. Meanwhile, Virginia Commonwealth University will commence the spring semester with all classes taught remotely, says the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Continue reading
By Steve Haner
When Texas went to the United States Supreme Court last month complaining about the election processes in four other states, the case was dismissed on the issue of standing. The Court correctly replied Texas had no right to complain about how the Electoral College votes were determined in other states but could only control selection of its own presidential electors.
But what if Texas had been part of an interstate compact that required it to choose electors based on which candidate won the highest number of votes in the entire nation? That is what the National Vote Compact does: States that join, once enough agree, ignore the will of their own voters. They will certify electors pledged to the candidate with the most votes overall, even if that person failed to win in that state. Suddenly they have a larger stake in how those other states run elections. Continue reading
Photo credit: The Sun
By Dick Hall-Sizemore
After taking an oath on Sunday to support and defend the Constitution, four Republican members of the House of Representatives from Virginia supported an attempt to disregard the votes of about 5 million citizens in a vain effort to keep Donald Trump in office.
These Congressmen were Morgan Griffith (9th District), Ben Cline (6th District), Robert Good (5th District), and Rob Wittman (1st District).
The supporters of this attempt cited vague claims about election fraud and concerns about the integrity of the electoral system. Trump continued to stoke these baseless claims in the face of statements by his top Homeland Security official on the integrity of the election system and his Attorney General that there is no evidence of widespread fraud that would change the results of the election. He fired them both after they made such statements. He continued to air such claims despite being ruled against by numerous judges, many nominated by him. Continue reading
Source: Virginia Public Access Project
by James A. Bacon
You can count on progressives and the media to make every issue under the sun about race — and for Bacon’s Rebellion to call them on the carpet for it. Here’s the latest example. It turns out that, in the minds of some, too many of the people volunteering to serve on Virginia’s Redistricting Commission are… you guessed it… white.
Of the 214 people who have applied so far, with a week to go, only 25 are black, seven Hispanic, three Asian, six multiracial, and two American Indian, according to a count made by the Virginia Public Access Project. By my reckoning, that means about 82% of the applicants for the eight citizens positions in the commission are white. Three quarters are male.
Some are not happy with this disproportionate display of civic participation, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“I’m not the one to say I told you so but when it comes to the redistricting commission, @PriceForDel95 tried to tell y’all,” tweeted Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Patersburg. “Old. Rich. White. Men. But that seems to be part of the Virginia way.”
Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield, said she is “really concerned about the lack of diversity in the VPAP data,” especially by the lack of Asian representation. Continue reading
by James A. Bacon
In a Tuesday Facebook post Sen. Amanda F. Chase, R-Chesterfield, a candidate for governor, called upon President Trump declare martial law and seize voting machines to find the voting fraud that resulted in Joe Biden’s election. “There needs to be a national audit,” she said.
President-elect Biden, elaborated Chase, is “not my President and never will be. The American people aren’t fools. We know you cheated to win and we’ll never accept the results. Fair elections we can accept but cheating to win, never. It’s not over yet. So thankful President Trump has a backbone and refuses to concede. President Trump should declare martial law as recommended by General Flynn.”
This is scary stuff. Chase’s comment has been appropriately rebuked by many fellow Republicans, including her opponent in the gubernatorial contest Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights. Chase’s comment comes treacherously close calling for a suspension of suspending democracy, overthrowing the rule of law, and declaring a dictatorship. It’s dangerous as hell and, as far as I’m concerned, disqualifies her as a serious candidate for public office.
But there is a larger point to make. Chase’s comment demonstrates the extent to which a large swath of the Trump-voting electorate has become thoroughly distrustful of political institutions, the media, and the opinions of America’s cultural elites. The same day that Chase’s comment was reported by the Washington Post, these stories were reported in local newspapers in Virginia: Continue reading
Senator Amada Chase, R-Chesterfield
By Steve Haner
Give credit where it is due: Chesterfield Senator Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, had the wisdom and courage to reverse a bad decision. Virginia’s Republicans may be back in the game for 2021.
Both Senator Chase and Delegate Kirk Cox had expressed a preference for their party to choose a nominee for governor by holding a June primary, likely to draw several hundred thousand voters to make the choice. A week ago, party insiders in a smoke-filled Zoom chat made the bonehead decision to hold a convention, where fewer than 1 percent of those likely primary voters might participate.
The other 99.5 percent of the Virginians who probably would have liked to pick a GOP nominee – but not spend their money and time on a convention — were just told: You don’t matter, we don’t care what you think, those of us who live and breathe the insider game want to pick. But we sure hope you show up in November and help us then. Brilliant.
Chase’s immediate reaction was to announce she would simply gather petitions and get on the November ballot as an independent, although you could expect her to claim the title “independent Republican.” She saw and grabbed the high ground, claiming (correctly) that the GOP was once again behaving as insular, out of touch and disinterested in broadening its appeal.
The decision sparked a war within the GOP, with primary advocates even attacking State Central Committee members. Somehow, however, Chase realized that was not a path to victory for her, and in fact guaranteed the Governor’s Mansion to the Democrats. Who wants to be another Russ Potts? So now she is back in the hunt for convention delegates. Continue reading
By Peter Galuszka
Imagine there is a “think tank” at a private, non-profit university. It produces no academic papers and does no peer-reviewed research. Instead, it holds podcasts, seminars and buys ads on Facebook that obviously promote a political party and president.
Would that be a “think tank” or a political action committee?
That about sums up the situation involving Falkirk Center at Liberty University in Lynchburg, according to Politico, a Washington-based news outlet.
True, Liberty is a private, conservative religious institution. But that does not mean it can do what it wants.
“Universities are not allowed to back candidates or be involved in elections because of their status as 501c(3) nonprofits, which exempts institutions like Liberty from paying income tax and allows donors to deduct their donations from their taxes,” according to Politico. Continue reading
By Dick Hall-Sizemore
Three Virginia Republican members of the House of Representatives joined a brief supporting the request from the state of Texas asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the election in four states. Think about it. The state of Texas was objecting to how four states ran their elections and was asking the Supreme Court to set aside the results of those elections and direct the legislatures of those states to select the electors. Never mind that the Constitution delegates the administration of elections to each state.
What happened to those Representatives’ concerns about activist judges? And federalism? They wanted the federal government to overturn the elections in those states and tell those states how they were to select Presidential electors. And these Representatives call themselves conservatives?
The three Virginians who joined in this farce:
Rob Wittman (1st District)
Morgan Griffith (9th District)
Ben Cline (6th District)
The Supreme Court summarily dismissed the request by Texas to file the suit, thereby saying that the case was not worthy of even being heard and considered by the Court.
by Chris Adams
In a Restonnow.com opinion piece last month, Delegate Ken Plum, D-Reston, listed several accomplishments of the General Assembly in 2020. Several speak positively to the Commonwealth. One, however, is noteworthy for degrading election integrity.
“Non-discrimination legislation passed with the Virginia Values Act being one of the most comprehensive in the nation,” wrote Plum. “Voting laws were changed to make voting easier and more accessible as voters are now learning as they cast their votes in this election. Many Jim Crow-era laws were repealed.”[i] Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax Station, and Senator Chap Petersen, D=Fairfax, joined Plum in voting in favor of the bill. Governor Ralph Northam signed the bill in April.[ii]
On April 10, 2020 several changes were made to Virginia Election Law. A complete list of changes made to Virginia election law can be found here. Here are three of the most worrisome.
Absentee Voting; no excuse required
HB 1 and SB 111
Effective date: July 1, 2020. Continue reading