State of Elections

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Tag: VA

An Unenviable Choice: Party Loyalty or Voting Your Conscience?

How do we resolve the tension between an individual’s right to vote for who he or she chooses and a political party’s right to set its own rules to govern its proceedings? This conflict was at issue in Correll v. Herring, involving the validity of Virginia election law § 24.2-545 (D).

Political parties in Virginia “have the right to determine the method by which . . .  [they] will select their delegates to the national convention to choose the party’s nominees for President and Vice President of the United States including a presidential primary or another method determined by the party.” Virginia Code § 24.2-545 (A). Under § 24.2-545 (D), party delegates must vote for the candidate who wins the most votes in the party primary (“winner takes all”) if the state party uses a primary election system.  Violation of § 24.2-545 (D) is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

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Past Prisoners at the Polls: The Legality of Vote Restoration to Felons in Virginia

“No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority.”

This is the mandate of Article I, § 2 of the Virginia Constitution.  But, how much authority does a Virginia governor really have to restore voting rights to felons? The answer seems to be that a Virginia governor has fairly broad authority to restore voting rights to felons so long as he does so on an individualized basis. The next question becomes: what counts as an individualized basis? That answer may be gleaned from the Virginia Supreme Court’s recent decision not to find Governor McAuliffe in contempt of court for his actions taken in August to restore voting rights to felons.

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How reliable are Virginia’s voting machines?

By: Venu Katta

It may be tempting to think that the United States, the land of smartphones and supercomputers, would have commensurate levels of technology when it came to voting. Dispelling this, sadly, does not require us to look very far. Meet the WINVote touchscreen voting machine.

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Created and implemented in the early-2000s (and without any form of update since 2004), the WINVote machine is essentially a glorified laptop running Windows XP that also features a touch display. Its USB ports are physically unprotected, the wireless encryption key is set to “a-b-c-d-e,” the administrator password to access the machine (which is unchangeable) is “admin,” and there exists no auditable paper trail after an individual has voted. Oh, and it’s prone to crash. A lot. All of these, among other concerns, combined to lead security experts to term it “the worst voting machine in the U.S.”

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Election Law Program Pilots Three Online Platforms of State Election Codes in Colorado, Florida and Virginia

Wondering what the Virginia election code has to say about campaign volunteers and others at the polls? Want context on statutes that govern when voter registration ends in Florida? Curious about how Colorado election statutes impact voter registration lists?

In advance of next month’s election, the Election Law Program, a joint project of William & Mary Law School and the National Center for State Courts, is piloting three online platforms of state election codes in Colorado, Florida and Virginia. Teams of election experts have annotated their state’s election code to give context for how the law operates in these states. In addition, case law, regulations, advisory opinions, and administrative guidance are linked to relevant statutes to provide a full picture of how election codes in Colorado, Florida, and Virginia function.

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4th Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Virginia Voter ID Challenge

By: Kelsey Dolin

On September 22nd, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the second round of Virginia Democrats’ challenge of the State’s voter ID law. The appellants contend that the law unfairly burdens minorities and young people’s ability to vote because these groups are less likely to possess the requisite photo ID. The District Court previously upheld the law.

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Why Aren’t Virginia Voters Voting in Year 3 Elections?

By: Melissa Ryan

Virginia holds elections every year in November: Year 1 for Governor (most recently 2013); Year 2 for the U.S. Congress (2014); Year 3 for the Virginia legislature and statewide and local offices (2015); and Year 4 for the President and U.S. Congress (2016).

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Shades of Grey: Virginia’s Ongoing Struggle to Ensure Proportionate Minority Representation

By: Hannah Thomson

As of 2014, African Americans made up just under 20% of Virginia’s total population. Yet, of the eleven congressmen and women elected from Virginia, incumbent Bobby Scott is currently the only African American representing the state, and only the second to be elected in the state’s entire history. This means that, while amounting to almost 20% of the total population, only 9% of Virginia’s seats in the House of Representatives are held by African Americans. Statistics improve slightly when looking at Virginia’s General Assembly. Of the one hundred members of the House of Delegates, thirteen representatives are African American (13%); of Virginia’s forty senators, five are African American (12.5%). Ultimately, a total 12.8% of the Virginia’s legislators are African American, falling about 6% below the total African American population in the state.

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