State of Elections

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When a state’s constitution says “2011” does it really mean “2011?”

by Davis Walsh

Virginia’s House of Delegates appears ready to push Congressional redistricting to 2012, when Republicans will effectively control both the Commonwealth’s House and Senate. But such an action may be impermissible because Virginia’s Constitution, Article II, Section 6, mandates redistricting be completed in 2011, but the Constitution prescribes no express penalties for the failure to adopt a plan in 2011. The question that this situation presents is whether the General Assembly can ignore a provision of the Commonwealth’s Constitution when that provision includes no penalties.

Earlier this year, the Democrat-controlled Senate and Republican House of Delegates agreed on state General Assembly redistricting,  but each house passed competing plans for Congressional redistricting. The Republican House of Delegates plan would keep the Commonwealth’s split of eight Republicans and three Democrats in Congress. The Democratic Senate’s plan would create a new minority influence district, which would provide minorities with a substantial number of voters in a district but not a majority. Continue reading

Recount in Virginia’s 21st District

Can a change in the law change the outcome of an election?

Bobby MathiesonOn November 3rd, voters in Virginia went to the polls and handed Republicans a statewide office sweep and gains in the House of Delegates, but, as has become a common occurrence in Virginia, there is one election headed for a recount.

In the 21st House of Delegates district, Delegate Bobby Mathieson (D) and Virginia Beach City Councilor Ron Villanueva (R) battled throughout the summer and fall and after injunctions, questions about absentee ballots, the Virginia Beach electoral board certified Villanueva the winner by 14 votes. The current margin of victory is a mere nine-tenths of one percent.Ron Villanueva

Virginia law allows for the trailing candidate to request a recount if the margin of victory is less than one percent and Mathieson has stated that he will be seeking a recount. The state Board of Elections has certified the outcome of the election, and it appears that Mathieson will soon officially request a recount. Any recount would likely occur in mid-December. Continue reading

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