Editorial: Voting Again

Editorial: Voting Again

Every year is election year in Virginia, and it’s a bit much.

The most hotly contested race for statewide office in Virginia, the Republican contest for lieutenant governor, will be decided at a statewide convention on May 18. That’s about a month from now.

A statewide Democratic primary will take place June 11.

On Nov. 5, all eyes will turn to Virginia to follow the conclusion of a fascinating race for governor. Democrat Terry McAuliffe will face Republican Ken Cuccinelli in a contest that will appeal to more conservative Republicans and more liberal Democrats.

The race will feature massive efforts to turn out the vote. Mailboxes will fill up with glossy mailers. Airwaves will no doubt reflect the election.

Wait, didn’t we just do this?

Yes, but in 2013, Virginia will choose governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and all 100 members of the House of Delegates. Arlington voters will also elect one member to the county board and one member to the school board. City of Alexandria voters will also elect a commonwealth’s attorney and sheriff.

And it won’t be simple.

Right now it appears that there are seven Republican candidates, two Democratic candidates and an Independent Green candidate running for lieutenant governor.

Republicans will choose from their seven candidates at a statewide convention on May 18. Here are the names of the seven: Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R), former state senator and wife of former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis; E.W. Jackson Sr. (R); L. Scott Lingamfelter (R), state delegate; Steve Martin (R), state senator; Pete Snyder (R); Corey Stewart (R), Prince William County Board chair, and Susan Stimpson (R), Stafford County Board chair.

Democrats will choose a candidate for lieutenant governor in the statewide primary on June 11; candidates are Aneesh Chopra (D) and state Sen. Ralph Northam (D).

Two Republicans and two Democrats appear to be running for attorney general: Democrats Justin Fairfax and state Sen. Mark Herring would face off in the June 11 primary. Republicans would choose between candidates Del. Rob Bell (R) and state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R) at the state-wide convention May 18.

Town of Vienna voters will elect three members of its Town Council on May 7.

Virginia has a General Election every year on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November; that’s Nov. 5, this year. Federal offices are elected in even-numbered years. State and local offices are elected in odd-numbered years. If primaries are called by the political parties, they are held on the second Tuesday in June; that’s June 11, this year.

This is a formula for election fatigue, alternating record voter turnout with tepid voter turnout. Realigning Virginia’s election calendar so that the critical statewide races took place in presidential election years would increase voter participation, although this change is not simple and not likely.

The Virginia General Assembly voted this year to impose much more stringent voter identification requirements starting in July 2014, an unnecessary step that suppresses the votes of poor, elderly and minority voters. Instead, they should fund an annual mailing to all registered voters that summarizes what and who will be on the ballot. This would increase the integrity of elections, giving all voters a chance to arrive at the polls informed and engaged.

Here are some good sources for information on upcoming elections:

Virginia State Board of Elections, http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/,

Virginia Public Access Project, http://www.vpap.org/candidates?display=state,

Fairfax County Board of Elections, http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/ecalendar.htm,

Alexandria Board of Elections, http://www.alexandriava.gov/Elections,

Arlington Board of Elections, http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/VoterRegistration/VoterRegistrationMain.aspx.