Setting the record straight on state Elections Board action
7/15/2021, 6 p.m.
Re “Councilman Michael Jones blasts ‘blatant discrimination’ by state Board of Elections,” Free Press July 8-10 edition:
I write to address several issues related to the Richmond Free Press article, “Councilman Michael Jones blasts ‘blatant discrimination’ by state Board of Elections.”
At its June 30 meeting, the board considered two separate and distinct agenda items dealing with candidate-related information. I’d like to set the record straight on both of them.
First, under § 24.2-511 of the Code of Virginia, local party officials are required to certify the names of nominees to the state board. The state code states that if the party official fails to do so, the state board “shall” declare that the candidate is the nominee. Accordingly, the board accepted the certification of three nominees due to the local party’s failure to provide certification on time: Republi- can candidates for the House of Delegates in Districts 2, 33 and 36. The board had taken the same action in the case of Democratic and Republican candidates for the House of Delegates in 2019.
Second, § 24.2-503 of the Code of Virginia authorizes the board to extend the filing deadline for candidates to submit two required forms: the Certificate of Candidate Qualification and the Statement of Economic Interests. If the board grants this extension, it applies to all affected candidates, regardless of the individual circumstances of their failure to file.
The filing deadline serves a valuable purpose: It provides finality and certainty at this stage of the election process. Earlier this year, I made clear that while the board previously had extended the deadline due to the failure of multiple candidates to comply with the law, there was “no assurance that the Board will grant an extension of the deadline in the future.” I reiterated that message on June 1 and urged candidates who had any questions about the filing of those forms to consult the department’s Candidate Bulletins.
Following the June 8 filing deadline, several candidates for state and local office requested an extension under § 24.2-503. At the board’s June 30 meeting, none of the members of the board offered a motion to do so. This was the exact sequence of events when the board declined to grant a deadline extension for several candidates, including Dr. Jones, earlier in the year.
In summary, the board’s actions on June 30 were not a “stunning reversal” of past practices. The board did not vote to “allow seven white candidates extra time.” And the statement that “Two independent candidates for the House of Delegates and three candidates for local offices also were granted deadline extensions” is completely incorrect.
As it has done in the past, the board will endeavor to apply the provisions of the Code of Virginia in a consistent and reasoned manner, with the goal of promoting an efficient, accessible, secure and transparent election process in the Commonwealth.
ROBERT H. BRINK
Virginia Board of Elections