May 5 elections will go on as planned — for now — after Senate kills Northam’s proposal to move them

Elections

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — May 5 will still be Election Day for voters living in more than a hundred localities in Virginia, for now.

Late Wednesday night, the Virginia Senate chose to ultimately not vote on Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposal to move the date of those elections to November.

In Hampton Roads that means elections for city council and school board members in localities such as Chesapeake, Hampton, Norfolk and Newport News would go on as originally scheduled.

However, Northam hinted the legislative branch may not get the final word.

“I will review the General Assembly’s actions on scheduling local elections and announce next steps soon,” Northam said in a news release.

Northam originally proposed moving the election date to “protect democracy without endangering public health” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northam’s plan would have included discarding absentee ballots already cast and having people resend ballots in November. Officials whose terms were slated to expire on June 30 would continue in office until their successors were elected on Nov. 3.

The Virginia House of Delegates narrowly approved the plan Wednesday by a 47-45 vote. However, that was on the third try.

The Virginia Municipal League, which represents local government interest, pushed back against Northam’s plan from the get-go saying “voters across Virginia submitted their choices (absentee) for local leadership in good faith that their voices would be heard.”

However, other groups, such as the League of Women Voters of Virginia and Change the Date Chesapeake pushed for the change with the hope of increasing voter turnout.

The state Department of Elections is encouraging people to vote absentee by selecting a special box.


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