The Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday passed legislation reforming the State Board of Elections to guarantee the nonpartisan 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.
“This is simply about fairness,” said Speaker Kirk Cox (R – Colonial Heights). “All voters should be confident in the electoral process and be able to trust elections are conducted in the most transparent way possible.”
In addition to increasing the number of board members from three to six, the legislation will also set the terms of service at six years to help with contitunity from one Governor to the next. Board members will be limited to two terms.
“While elections offer an opportunity to choose between candidates, the way elections are administered should not be partisan,” said Delegate Margaret Ransone (R-Westmoreland) who carried the bill. “Election Day is all about the voters. We have seen many problems with the State Board over the past several years and votes being decided based on the party in control.”
Republican Leaders have said ensuring fair elections for both parties is one of their top priorities this year. Republicans voted unanimously for HB1405 while 47 Democrats voted against it. The bill will now head to the Senate.