Sunday, December 10, 2023

Virginia Elections Board Certifies Midterm Results With No Drama

Election official with voting stickers at Robious Elementary School in Midlothian, Va., November 5, 2019. (Parker Michels-Boyce/Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND — Virginia’s Republican-controlled State Board of Elections certified the midterm election results in a drama-free, unanimous vote Monday.

The vote, which occurred with little discussion and no public comments objecting to the procedure, finalizes a disappointing election cycle for the state GOP.

The party gained one additional seat in the state’s congressional delegation after state Sen. Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, defeated Democratic incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria in the Hampton Roads-based 2nd District. But Republican challengers came up short in two other competitive contests as Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton both won their reelection bids in the 7th and 10th districts, respectively.

Certification of election results is usually a formality, but it’s become more of an open question in some states after failed efforts to block certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump in 2020.

En route to sweeping last year’s elections for governor, attorney general and lieutenant governor, Republicans campaigned on “election integrity,” a buzzword Democrats have criticized as a nod toward unfounded election conspiracy theories.

Though some Republican-aligned local activists have challenged the state’s electoral processes this year, there’s been little evidence so far that Republicans in the upper reaches of state government are willing to wield their power to try to sway election outcomes.

The five-person State Board of Elections has three Republican members, and they’ve mostly brushed aside activists who attend public meetings to suggest the state’s voting system is susceptible to widespread fraud.

Documents the Virginia NAACP released last week related to the “election integrity unit” created by Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares showed state lawyer Joshua Lief, who works closely with the State Board of Elections, occasionally telling election integrity activists the law simply wasn’t on their side.

Just prior to the Nov. 8 election, state lawyers defeated a longshot legal effort to block the use of vote-counting machines and instead force election officials to count them by hand.

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