Rigging the Election Rules — Legally

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

“Virginia Rule Allowing Late Ballots Missing Postmark Was Illegal, Court Rules.”

Virginia’s Board of Elections had issued guidance before the 2020 election that allowed the counting of ballots arriving up to three days late without postmarks — an open-ended invitation to fraud. That rule was blocked by Circuit Court Judge William Eldridge in response to a lawsuit filed by Thomas Reed, a Frederick County election official. Last week, Eldridge determined definitively that the rule violated state election law, and permanently banned its implementation in future Virginia elections.

You probably didn’t read the story because only conservative media outlets reported it. Bing the results (I like to keep Google honest by using Microsoft’s Bing search tool sometimes), and you’ll see that not a single Virginia “news”paper or other establishment media outlet ran that  story.

Meanwhile, against the backdrop of Democrats doing everything within their power to ensure that “every vote counts,” we read this article from the Kingsport Times about deceased state Sen. Ben Chafin, a Republican representing the 38th senatorial district in far Southwest Virginia. Before his untimely death of COVID-19 on Jan. 1, Chafin had submitted a bill to strengthen protections for incapacitated adults facing physical and financial abuse.

The bill has been taken up by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, and Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News. It’s nice to see bipartisanship in action, but noticeably absent is the participation of Chafin’s successor. That’s because Chafin doesn’t have a successor. Chafin doesn’t have a successor because Governor Ralph Northam scheduled his special election after the close of the General Assembly session rather than, as he could have, the day before the General Assembly convened this year.

Bacon’s bottom line: Democrats want to ensure that every vote counts. They just don’t want to ensure that every Virginians gets to vote.

While I do not share the widely held view among many Republicans that the presidential election was “stolen,” I have become incredibly cynical about the election process. An extraordinary amount of effort goes into manipulating election rules, and every move is calculated for political advantage. Both Democrats and Republicans engage in this process. But some offenses are more egregious than others. The 200,000 citizens of Virginia’s 38th senatorial district who have no one to represent them in the General Assembly this year can vouch to that.

Meanwhile, I have yet to see a single quote from a single Democrat objecting to Northam’s decision to disenfranchise 200,000 Virginians. For that matter, I haven’t seen a single peep of protest expressed in news articles or the editorial pages of Virginia’s so-called “news”papers that once upon a time stood up for the little guy. No wonder so many people have zero trust in the media, believe politics is rigged, and fall prey to conspiracy theories.