The Virginia House of Delegates Committee on Privileges and Elections passed legislation Friday reforming the composition of the State Board of Elections to guarantee the bipartisan administration of elections in the Commonwealth. House Bill 1405 increases from three to six the number of members on the Board, requiring three to be from the party that won the most recent gubernatorial election and three from the party receiving the next highest number of votes. The bill would also allow the State Board of Elections to appoint the Commissioner that oversees the Department of Elections, previously a political appointee of the governor.
“Candidates should know that every election is conducted in a way that allows voters to have the ultimate say in who serves in an elected position,” said Delegate Margaret Ransone (R-Westmoreland.) “While there may be two candidates running in an election, the way the election is governed should not be decided by a partisan body.”
“Virginians should be confident that their elections are administered freely, fairly and honestly, and the best way to guarantee that in today’s supercharged partisan environment is to evenly constitute the State Board of Elections,” said Chairman Mark Cole (R-Spotsylvania). “Virginia’s election law, procedures and practices should be administered fairly by representatives of both parties, not just the party that controls the governor’s mansion. This bill is a critically important reform.”
“Over the last four years, we lost confidence in the Department of Elections and its ability to run our elections without partisan bent,” said Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax). “The Board should represent all Virginians, not just one party, and the Commissioner should be selected independently of the governor. I am sincerely disappointed that anyone would oppose these common sense measures.”
House Bill 1405 passed out of Privileges and Elections 11 to 10, with 10 Democrats opposing the measure. The full bill can be found here.