Fairfax casts tie-breaking vote in Virginia Senate, bill to move all local elections to Nov. goes forward

Virginia Politics

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would move all elections for local governments to November.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, broke a 19-19 tie vote in the Senate in favor of Senate Bill 1157.

The bill now moves to the Virginia House of Delegates, where last year Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposal to move the elections passed as well.

Currently, elections for local seats in some Virginia localities are held in May. If signed into law, SB 1157 would override election dates currently set by existing city and town charters.

Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg and Franklin all hold elections on the first Tuesday in May every other year.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake), says starting in 2022, a voter will elect mayors, City Council and School Board members during the November general election, no matter where they live in the commonwealth.

“I submitted this bill for the citizens, not the politicians,” Spruill said in an interview prior to the vote.

The vote was mostly along party lines. Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) voted in favor however and Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) voted against. Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-Fairfax) didn’t vote at all.

Supporters of the proposal say the move would help limit confusion, increase voter turnout and save localities money.

Opponents say it would just further politicize yet another sector of government.

Some of the mayors in the localities that would be impacted by the legislation have said they would prefer to keep May elections.

SB 1157 isn’t the only bill centered around elections in Virginia.

Del. Kelly Fowler (D-Virginia Beach) also introduced a bill to change Virginia Beach’s voting system

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