NEWSLETTER: Free, open and (un)fair elections

April 15, 2020

Dear Friend,

Once upon a time in Virginia, we had free, open and fair elections. This year, the Governor and the liberals running the General Assembly unilaterally decided to be drop “fair” from the equation.

Particularly troubling was the bill signed last week by the Governor repealing Virginia’s photo ID requirement. In recent years, Democrats have tried to convince voters that photo ID was part of an effort by conservatives to suppress the vote by traditional Democrat voters. Notwithstanding this empty rhetoric and years of efforts to prove that photo ID really does suppress votes, Democrats have come up completely empty. There is no evidence that photo ID ever suppressed a single vote – except perhaps fraudulent ones.

In reality, photo ID first gained serious traction in 2005 when none other than President Jimmy Carter championed it. President Carter served as co-chair of the Carter Baker Commission convened after voter confidence in the integrity of our system of elections crashed after the debacle of the 2000 Presidential election. You see, a mere 15 years ago, when the Democrats were on the losing side of a close election, they protested that the very survival of the United States faced this existential threat – voters who had lost faith in the integrity of our elections.  

It’s apparent that the concerns of 2000 era Democrats have been discarded in favor of stacking the deck and dismissing the cries of “foul” by Republicans. Who knows whether voter fraud will run rampant with the repeal of the photo ID requirement? I think it is a very real risk and so do many other voters – Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

To me, the fact that there are no reports of epidemic voter fraud should be viewed as a good thing. It certainly should not serve as an invitation to throw the doors open to unscrupulous political organizers or operatives on either side who would undermine the integrity of our elections. Remember, every fraudulent vote case dilutes the value of every other vote.

In addition to the repeal of photo ID, the Governor signed a bill to make Election Day a state holiday. To offset this change, the bill removes Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday. Setting aside my concerns with the rewrite of history, a majority of Virginians who get a state holiday off are unionized employees. And who do unionized employees vote for in large blocs?

Yep, you guessed it – Democrats.

The political motivation that the Governor tries to hide behind civic motivations to increase voter turnout is not lost on me or on other Virginians.

Lastly — and perhaps most outrageous — is a bill to allow for same day registration and voting. This law allows anyone to visit a polling place on Election Day, register to vote that day and vote in that election. It is truly a “vote early and often” law that would have made even Boss Tweed blush. With polls now open from 6am until 8pm, predominately older and retired poll workers and no money to upgrade our technology and a demonstrated lack of interest in removing dead or out of state voters from our voting rolls, Virginia is not equipped to deal with same day registration.

In order for Virginians to have confidence in the integrity of our elections, we know that they expect them to be free, open and fair. By signing these bills, the Governor has significantly undermined these principles that should be embraced by every American.

And just as a quick update on the email blast I sent last week regarding Governor Northam’s proclamation of his intent to move local elections from May to November, it looks like he is following through on that plan. Unbelievably, to do this he actually slid that plan into his amendments to the Commonwealth’s budget.

He released his amendments this week to House Bill 29. This is what we call the “caboose bill”…the budget bill that funds the state government from now until the end of the fiscal year – June 30.

One of the amendments to this bill is adding language to not only move local elections to November but also to throw out tens of thousands of  ballots already cast across Virginia in these local elections that are now supposed to be less than 3 weeks away! His plan will also reopen the field in all of these local elections, thereby completely changing the rules and the playing field literally as time was running out in these important contests. It goes without saying that his decision to propose throwing out ballots that hardworking Virginians have already taken the time to fill out and cast is astounding and just plain wrong.


Mark Obenshain