Earlier this year, the Virginia House of Delegates voted to pass the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. It then went to the Virginia Senate where it was tabled in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee where it now remains. Unlike most tabled legislation, we have it on good authority the Senate P&E will vote on it in early December. If we win there and then in then, assuming we get at least Twenty of the Twenty-One Democrats and—worst case—no Republicans, we can pass the Senate and the General Assembly with the Lieutenant Governor breaking the tie. Governor Northam has promised to sign the bill when and if we do!
But then what?
Starting now begins our #PopularVote2024 strategy where we look to shore up the last five or six states to get us to 270. One of those states will almost certainly be Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes! I’ve been to Minnesota, it’s absolutely gorgeous, and the Mall of America is a sight to be seen, as is the Mary Tyler Moore house.
Today, I worked with some fellow NPVIC advocates to find some likely soft Republican districts we could target to get voters to call their State Representative and ask them to support the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Of the 134 House Districts, we selected 4 that were battleground districts and one that was a hail-mary pass for any Republican challenger.
We don’t know how well this will go but nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh? And we must try anything that gets us to #PopularVote2024!
One of the most important issues in the age of SARS-CoV-2 is voting access when polling places are such potential vectors for disease. Last week, I was past of a phone town hall with State Senator Barbara Favola. I was very happy to learn that Governor Ralph Northam is considering holding a special session of the General Assembly this September to ask the them to vote on universal vote-by-mail. This is something Virginia needs! After all, it already works very well in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and Hawaii.
Delegate Price agrees. She has stood with me on a number of other important non-partisan voting rights bills, such as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and two bills to develop a non-partisan way of generating legislative districts. Another bill would have set up a nonpartisan redistricting commission. The committee would have begun as soon as one July, to start the process of determining the 2021 districts. Unfortunately, that bill failed. However, she was able to pass legislation which made most forms of packing and cracking illegal while still protecting the spirit of the Voting Rights Act.
Now it remains to see if we can give Virginia a more streamlined vote-by-mail process. The main issue is to remove the onerous signature requirement. Also, as Tran points out, we need to make sure folks who are visually impaired can vote. If people change residences without informing the Commonwealth, they shouldn’t be dropped from the voting rolls. We also need to consider people who are just used to voting in person on election day. One solution is to maintain opened polling locations on election day, but by default allow everyone to vote-by-mail with no signature nor an excuse, and not dropping anyone because the voting invitation mail bounces.
Or, if we do still need a signature, I suppose I could ask my voting buddy Rachel to take care of mine, as I take care of hers.
I’m live right now with Delegate Cia Price and Tram Nguyen, Co-executive Director of New Virginia Majority, to talk…