A Virginia state representative has proposed legislation that would try to curtail political bias in the Virginia Board of Elections.
House Bill 1620, proposed by Del. Margaret Ransone, would increase the number of board members from three to six to prevent one party from being overrepresented on the board. Currently, the board has two members from the governor’s party and one from the other major party, but this bill would require three members from both of the major parties.
The bill would allow appointees to choose the Department of Elections Commissioner, which is currently appointed by the governor. It also employs a director of operations and requires the State Board to submit an annual report to the governor and General Assembly on the activities of the State Board and the Board of elections from the previous year.
Ransone’s legislative assistant, Cynthia Daiger, told Watchdog.org that Ransone felt the need to propose this measure after the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission found political bias in the previous Democratic administration’s board of elections. However, they did not find that any bias led to any impact on the election results.
“As JLARC found, in 2016 a deputy commissioner told several people that a main part of her job was to get Hillary Clinton elected president,” Daiger said. “That is troubling. Virginians and voters need to know when they go to cast their vote, every possible step has been taken to ensure a fair and open election.”
Daiger said that elections should never be administered in a biased way and that the Department of Elections should never support one political party over another.
JLARC provided two recommendations on how to curtail potential political bias after it released its report. It suggested to create a permanent, full-time director of operations position and eliminate the two politically appointed positions on the board: the chief deputy and confidential adviser positions.
“Delegate Ransone's bill would appear to accomplish both,” Hal Greer, a spokesperson for the JLARC, told Watchdog.org.
A spokesperson for the Department of Elections declined to comment on the proposed legislation.