Out of the tumult of the 2018 elections in Virginia Beach — new regulations

Two pieces of legislation passed the Virginia General Assembly in February that deal with issues that arose during the 2018 election (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the Virginia General Assembly)
Two pieces of legislation passed the Virginia General Assembly in February that deal with issues that arose during the 2018 election (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the Virginia General Assembly)

The November 2018 elections in Virginia Beach included accusations of fraud against congressional staff, as well as the state’s first ever simultaneous recount of multiple races.

Out of that tumult, state lawmakers have taken to steps to legislate away some of the problems that came out of the last election cycle.

Three of the 2018 Virginia Beach City Council election races were recounted simultaneously — a first in Virginia history. With no precedent to go on, judges, attorneys, court clerks, and election officials all jockeyed for input on the process that governed the process.

Del. Joe Lindsey, who mainly represents Norfolk but also part of Virginia Beach, introduced legislation in January that would inject some predictability into future multiple recounts. The bill requires a recount court to issue a written order setting out the rules of procedures for a multiple simultaneous recount prior to its beginning.

The bill also directs the State Board of Elections to create “standards and instructions for conducting simultaneous recounts of two or more elections in a single election district,” according to text of the legislation. The bill passed unanimously through the House of Delegates Jan. 31, and also in the state Senate on Feb. 20.

Related story: Multiple recounts in Virginia Beach a first in state’s history

The City Council’s recounts weren’t the only election drama of 2018. The 2nd Congressional District race was wrought with lawsuits and attempts to split the vote.

Former-Rep. Scott Taylor was running for reelection in 2018 when his staffers were found to have forged signatures on a petition to get Democratic challenger Shaun Brown on the ballot. The move is an old political tactic — an effort to split a candidate’s opponent’s votes. Taylor lost reelection to Democratic candidate Elaine Luria.

Out of the aftermath, a bill in the state Senate seeks to add a system of checks to managing and confirming petition signatures and related information.

State Sen. Lynwood Lewis represents much of the Eastern Shore, part of Norfolk, and a portion of Virginia Beach on the Chesapeake Bay. Lewis introduced legislation in January that “directs the State Board of Elections to revise its regulations for reviewing and processing candidate petitions.”

The bill charges the Board of Elections with creating a system for validating petition signatures, for tracking candidates petition information, and a clearer pathway for escalating allegations of petition fraud.

Lewis’s bill passed both the senate and the House of Delegates, and requires the state board of election to craft the regulations on or before Jan. 1, 2020.

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