ICYMI: 2018 legislation from House Republicans would have reformed elections oversight

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The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission staff presented a report on Monday on the operations and performance of Virginia’s Department of Elections. The devastating report confirmed political bias and aimless leadership under the McAuliffe administration and highlighted a disproportionate number of political appointees at the agency. Highlights from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

A legislative review of Virginia’s Department of Elections has found that the agency had an “environment of open support for one party over the other” under leadership appointed by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.

In an interview after the meeting, Bitz said JLARC was told that former agency leaders directed staff to help Democratic groups avoid campaign finance laws and rules that require political groups to put their names on ads.

“We heard of one example where the previous deputy commissioner at the agency very openly stated to a number of people, including to one high-level elections official in Virginia, that one of her key responsibilities was to help Hillary Clinton be elected president,” Bitz said.

In January, House Republicans supported legislation introduced by Delegate Margaret Ransone that would have created a non-partisan State Board of Elections. This legislation would have helped address the problems of political bias found in JLARC’s report by. The legislation would:

  • Increase the number of State Board members from three to six
  • Increase term lengths for State Board members from four years to six years
  • Require three members from each political party
  • Allow the Board to appoint a Commissioner
  • Require bipartisan support to appoint the Commissioner
  • At the time the bill passed the House of Delegates, Speaker Kirk Cox said: “This is simply about fairness. All voters should be confident in the electoral process and be able to trust elections are conducted in the most transparent way possible.”

“While elections offer an opportunity to choose between candidates, the way elections are administered should not be partisan,” said Delegate Ransone. “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.”

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