Chesapeake City Council votes to move local elections to November, as required by change in state law


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Chesapeake City Council has voted to move its mayoral, city council and school board elections to November, a move required by a recent change in state law.

The move comes after Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) signed a bill earlier this year that requires all local elections to be held in November. Some Virginia localities, including Chesapeake, have traditionally held local city council, school board and town council elections in May.

The agenda item passed on a 6-2 vote with City Council members S.Z. “Debbie” Ritter and Robert C. Ike Jr. opposed and member Don J. Carey III excused from the meeting, according to Heath Covey, Chesapeake director of public communications.

The new law for local elections goes into effect July 1, 2021, meaning local elections set for May 2022 will now be held November 2022.

The elections will still be held during even-numbered years in Chesapeake, despite a past proposal to move them to odd years.

A proposal to move elections in Chesapeake to odd-numbered years failed in April. Some argued the proposal would have cut down voter turnout by moving local elections off years that also had national elections with higher voter turnout.

Federal elections are held in even even-numbered years, while state elections are held in odd years.

However, others said those who show interest in voting will find their way to the polls regardless of the date or which other elections are being held.

The bill that moves local elections from May to November was introduced in the General Assembly by Virginia Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake).

It impacts 16 cities and more than 100 towns across Virginia, including Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg and Franklin.

Many mayors in Hampton Roads didn’t support the state bill, saying May elections kept local races from being overshadowed by national races, and keep issues from becoming partisan.

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