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Tag: Virginia (page 2 of 3)

Republican National Convention: William & Mary Law Student in the Virginia Delegation

William & Mary Law School student Bethany Bostron ‘17 found herself at the center of the storm at the recent Republican Convention in Cleveland. Bostron served as a delegate for Virginia at the Convention. In that role, Bostron assisted in an attempt to petition for a roll call vote that would allow delegates to reject new party rules that consolidated power in the RNC and to have the opportunity to cast a vote for someone other than Trump.  Quoted in USA Today, Bostron expressed a great deal of frustration. “On Monday, I was in charge of collecting signatures for the state of Virginia for a petition for a roll call vote, and I worked hard all Sunday night,” she explained. The next morning they “couldn’t find the secretary so we were hunting all over to find someone to hand [the petition] in to. We got everything in and the establishment just shut us down.”

Bostron’s front-row view of American Democracy illustrates the level of engagement of William & Mary Law students in the election process. Reached after the event, Bostron added… “I am very disappointed that the establishment would not allow delegates to play a role in selecting the rules that the party will operate under for the next four years. However, the experience has motivated me to become even more involved in the party and work to elect leaders who will allow grassroots participation. Outcomes are important, but the process we use to achieve those outcomes also matters.”

Bostron is also the subject of a Washington Post mini-documentary on Virginia delegates. Check it out here (Bostron appears starting at approximately minute 5).

Read the USA Today article quoting Bostron here.

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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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The Political Power of Wealth?: An International Perspective on Campaign Financing

By: Hannah Thompson

In June 2013, the New Zealand Parliament passed the Local Electoral Amendment Act 2013 with the primary intention of tightening rules on campaign financing in local elections. The Act determined that donations exceeding NZD $1,500 (roughly USD $995) – whether in cash, or in goods and services – made to candidates in relation to an election campaign could not be done so anonymously. Any person involved in the administration of the affairs of a candidate, relating to his or her election campaign, can now be liable for failing to disclose a donor’s identity (where it is known) for a fine not exceeding NZD $5,000 (USD $3,380). The relative modesty of the donation amount to be disclosed is intended to ensure that the identities of all moderate financial contributors to local electoral campaigns are publicly accessible information. In addition, the Electoral Act 1993 determines that candidates must file a return with the New Zealand Electoral Commission in respect of all donations from a single donor exceeding a total of NZD $30,000 (USD $19,900).

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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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Compactness and Political Considerations in Virginia General Assembly Districts

By: Emily Wagman

On September 14th, fourteen plaintiffs represented by DurretteCrump PLC filed suit in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond against the Virginia State Board of Elections, alleging that their respective House of Delegates and State Senate districts are not compact. Compactness is one of the Virginia Constitution’s three redistricting criteria. Along with compactness, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) requirements, and the “one person, one vote” requirement, districts must be contiguous and as close to equal in population as possible. Contiguity and equal population are relatively easy to determine, by looking at the proposed maps and the population data, respectively, compactness is more complicated.

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Lee v. Virginia Board of Elections: Wait, Virginians have to present a photo ID to vote?

By: Melissa Ryan

In 2013, Republican majorities in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly enacted a “voter ID law” that significantly restricts accepted forms of identification that voters must present before casting a ballot on Election Day. Now, officers at the election booths will require voters to present one of the following forms of photo identification: (1) a valid Virginia driver’s license; (2) a valid United States passport; (3) any photo identification issued by the Commonwealth, one of its political subdivisions, or the United States; (4) a valid student identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth; or (5) a valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business. Any voter that is unable to present an acceptable form of photo identification at the polls will be offered a provisional ballot, but the voter must deliver a copy of a proper form of identification to the electoral board by noon of the third day after the election. Provisional voters may submit copies by fax, e-mail, in-person submission, timely United States Postal Service, or commercial mail delivery.

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Muddying the Waters: Publishing Proposed Redistricting Remedies

By: Darcee Case

The most recent action in Virginia’s ongoing redistricting saga involves a motion to make the proposed remedial plans available on a publicly accessible website. Perhaps ironically, it is the Defendants (Alcorn) suggesting that the proposals be posted online, while the Plaintiffs (Personhuballah) argues that general public input is not necessary or appropriate.

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Reject perennial ‘Etch A Sketch’ redistricting

by Brian Cannon

Update: Brian Cannon’s letter to the Richmond Times-Dispatch is available here.

Whether Sen. John Watkins’ Martin Luther King Day surprise defies the U.S. Constitution or the federal Voting Rights Act are complicated questions. But the constitutionality of his “re-redisticting” bill might live closer to home. Consider Virginia’s state Constitution.

In Article II Section 6, the Virginia Constitution grants the legislature the authority to redraw district lines with the following passage:  “The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts … in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter.  Any such decennial reapportionment law shall take effect immediately….” Continue reading

Virginia Senate Redistricting Bill Catches Governor by Surprise

By Tony Glosson

On Monday, the Virginia Senate approved a redistricting bill that the Virginia Public Access Project claims will shift some traditionally democratic voters from competitive districts into already solidly Democratic ones. This would provide Republicans, who control an evenly divided Senate via Lt. Governor Bill Bolling’s tiebreaker vote, with an advantage going into 2015 elections.

Bolling indicated that he may not have voted for the bill had his vote been required to break a 20-20 tie citing concerns about its effect on bipartisanship for other legislation, but Democrat Henry L. Marsh III was absent from the vote. Marsh took the day off to attend the presidential inauguration. Thus, the bill passed in the Senate on a 20-19 vote without Bolling’s tiebreaker.

The bill will have to pass the Republican-controlled Virginia House, and be cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice, before it reaches Governor Bob McDonnell’s desk.

McDonnell, a Republican, said he was surprised by the move, but will make a decision about signing the legislation should it reach his desk. McDonnell also stated that he did not feel it was a “good way to do business,” and emphasized that he considers his transportation and education initiatives to be higher priorities than redistricting measures like this one. Proponents of the measure, however, argue that the bill creates districts that better comply with the U.S. Voting Rights Act and are more compact than the ones set by current law.

The Battleground 2012: Armed with More than a Vote: Guns in Polling Places in Virginia

by Scott Van Der Hyde

Virginia is widely acknowledged as a state that strongly supports the rights of citizens to own and carry guns.  A number of recent laws demonstrate this support by allowing Virginians to open-carry guns in most public places.  These new laws are likely to lead to a greater number of people carrying guns openly in public.  Now that Election Day is drawing near, the question naturally arises: should it be legal to open-carry at Virginia polling places on Election Day.

The issue of open-carry in polling places has come up a few times in recent elections in Virginia and elsewhere.  One specific instance in Virginia occurred in 2011 when an election officer attempted to carry a handgun on his hip at the polling place. The   chief officer at the polling station told the election officer that he could not remain at the polling place while he was wearing his handgun.  The election office informed the chief officer that he was not violating any laws by having his gun at the polling station, but he was still not allowed to remain at the polling station with the handgun.  According to the election officer, the chief officer was concerned about the handgun making people inside the polling station uncomfortable. Continue reading

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