IVN News

Virginia Officials Are Telling Voters to Lie to Poll Workers or Don’t Vote

Paid Advertisement

As Democrats and Republicans begin the march into their respective primary seasons, numerous sub-plots are developing. However, relative to the rights of voters to simply participate, what’s happening in Virginia — with its potential for utter chaos — is like something right out of Hollywood.

For starters, although Virginia is an open primary state, its Republican Party has decided to require all voters requesting a Republican ballot to sign a document affirming that they are a Republican. Understand that Virginia does not require voters to declare party affiliation when they register to vote, nor is it even an option.

Virginia GOP Executive Director John Findlay maintains that this is being done so that Democrats — and I presume others, including independents — do not have a say in the Republican nomination proceedings.

Well, that argument is all well and good if you’re voting in a CLOSED primary state. However, the point of the open primary is to allow all voters to decide amongst all candidates.

Learn More About How Primary Elections Work

So think about this for a moment. State law allows voters to receive either of the two major parties’ ballots to cast their primary vote—as they wish–for whomever they wish, regardless of party affiliation. Along comes the Republican Party, a private organization with their own rules, in apparent violation of state law.

Or are they?

Katherine Hanley doesn’t seem to think so, and it’s setting off a storm in Fairfax County.

Hanley, secretary of the county’s Electoral Board, is the former chairwoman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, a position she held from 1995-2003.

Recently, she appeared before the supervisors requesting they ask the local school board to close all of the county’s 167 schools on primary day, March 1. Her reason, in her own words (referring to the pledge), “If you say, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ I have to say, then ‘you don’t get a ballot.’”

That answer, she fears, will create chaos in the minds of many, particularly amongst Trump supporters.

If you say, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ I have to say, then ‘you don’t get a ballot.’
Katherine Hanley, secretary of the Fairfax Electoral Board
“That’s what this provision is…That’s about as contentious as anything we could possibly be doing in a polling place on Election Day,” she added.

The Board voted 9-1 to make the request of the school board.

The feeling about Trump is that he has the most to lose if this policy holds up, primarily because he will likely receive significant crossover from Democrats and a substantial amount of votes from independents — not to mention Republicans currently feeling disenfranchised for any number of reasons.

Trump has been quite vocal in his opposition to this policy, calling it a “suicidal mistake,” and lamenting about what he sees as a way to dissuade voters who want to support a Republican candidate but are frustrated with the establishment. Trump also feels that the party is missing a great opportunity for outreach.

However true that may be, from a voter support standpoint, virtually all Republican candidates would be losers as they would all receive crossover and independent votes — though maybe not as many.

But back to Ms. Hanley and her view of things.

There are a number of questions that need to be asked or answers that need to be clarified, not the least of which is, can the Republican Party require this stipulation under state law? According to the election code, one could surmise that incredibly, they may be able to.

In the Code of Virginia, Chapter 972, Article 7, Sub-Section 24.2-545, relative to who may vote in the presidential primary, it states:

“The duly constituted authorities of the state political party shall have the right to determine the method by which the state party will select its delegates to the national convention…If the party has determined that it will hold a presidential primary, each registered voter of the Commonwealth shall be given an opportunity to participate in the presidential primary of the political party…subject to requirements determined by the political party…The requirements may include, but shall not be limited to, the signing of a pledge by the voter of his intention to support the party’s candidate when offering to vote in the primary.”

This section of the state code also says that the state chairman of the political party must notify the State Board of Elections of their intentions at least 90 days before the primary. AND, these intentions must also be certified and approved by the State Board.

So, what happened with all of this?

Well, at the State Board meeting on December 16, 2015, the question of whether or not to grant the Republican Party’s request for the pre-vote pledge was heard. According to the minutes of the meeting (starting at page 11 of the PDF), there were four public speakers — one in favor and three opposed.

Those speaking in opposition were county elections officials while the voice in support was that of Mr. Findlay. The motion to approve the Republican Party’s request was approved unanimously with the only change that it would be a statement of affiliation rather than a pledge.

So what’s up with all of these political people not having any idea what the real deal is? A spokesman for the Virginia Department of Elections, in response to a question from IVN, stated that this is essentially still a fluid issue and he really didn’t have the answer as to whether or not the state could actually prohibit people who refuse to sign the statement from voting.

Governor McAuliffe said he would sign a bill introduced to stop this. Can he do that in time? Does this mean voters are really losing their rights? Has anyone bothered to ask, can voters really be denied the right to vote if they say, I won’t sign? Does anybody even know what question to ask?

Well, one thing is for sure. If you want to vote and they ultimately say you can’t—maybe you just lie!

Photo Source: Daily Press

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


Learn More About IVN

492 comments
Michaele Brown Smith
Michaele Brown Smith

Nope....I usually vote Democratic, but I am an Independent. I understand that Democrats outnumber Republicans 7 to 1. Maybe they are like me....on the books as a Democrat, but wise enough to realize no party should have my vote. Each individual candidate needs to vetted.

Ignacio Vasquez Jr.
Ignacio Vasquez Jr.

This is entirely wrong. The only only pledge should be to the flag or the constitution.

David in MA
David in MA

Then the other parties should do the same....... BUT! There will be a response from the Al Sharpton's & Jesse Jackson's on black voters who have a reading/comprehension issue, they won't understand.

David in MA
David in MA

As an after thought: Even if the voter did do this they can then revert back to whatever they were before, it is either automatic or a visit to the city or town clerks office can be done to return back to a persons original party.

Bras kill
Bras kill

Open Primaries are an absolute insanity, as it allows the enemies of a given party to have a say in who the candidate of that party will be! It is as crazy as the Israelis allowing the Palestinians to vote on who their Prime Minister will be! And don't try to tell me "that would never happen." I saw it happen first hand in a senatorial election where the people of Vermont were robbed of a real general election choice by a corrupt Pat Leahy who willingly participated in a plot to use the "open primary" system as a means to turn the primary process on it's head. Since there was no real competition in the Democrat primaries, their low-life voters thought it would be funny to take Republican ballots and cast votes for a phony charicature candidate named Fred Tuttle, who then told all of his supporters to vote for Senator Leahy in the general election. The people were robbed, but how the Dem trolls laughed at their crime.

Beverly Diehl
Beverly Diehl

We DO NOT HAVE TO DECLARE LOYALTY to be able to vote. This is NOT Cuba or China. This would be challenged in COURT.

Robert Broderick
Robert Broderick

Dianne LaPierre you'll get a dem ballot in the primary so no there won't be a repub name on it. in gen election you can vote either way

Skip Maul
Skip Maul

Mandy the parties just don't get it yet, it's going to be a brokered election...;-)

Deryl Bryant
Deryl Bryant

BS now you idiots are telling us who or what party we have to vote for ? I'm independent party. Republican & Democrat are both crooked.

Bras kill
Bras kill

Then vote for the Independent candidate in the primary. Vote for who you want in the general election. You won't even join the party but you think you should have a say who their candidate should be? Do you realize how idiotic that is?

Cecelia Kay Goodin
Cecelia Kay Goodin

It is time to look at the records and character of the person running NOT the party. We are in big trouble put party aside.

L.d. Burrow
L.d. Burrow

Screw Virginia the people has a right to vote as they wish

Donna Farrell
Donna Farrell

Everyone should be allowed to vote, whether they declare or not

Colleen Clark
Colleen Clark

They can't do that who they kidding why don't they just force you who to pick voteing is between me God and trump.... They are only suppose to count the numbers ...

Susan Hogan
Susan Hogan

Wrong. If anything, how about the US Constitution?!

Kelly Cary Davis
Kelly Cary Davis

Same in Missouri, at primary you get a ballot for only one party, general election you can vote for anyone

Ed Neely
Ed Neely

this country no longer has a party worth our loyalty

Jane Lisheness
Jane Lisheness

a vote is as sacred as a confessional...no body's business but a voter's own..just another attempt to intimidate voters. They love to do this down south..only way they can win an election is to intimidate, lie cheat and steal like they have for decades. Need to treat the south like a third world country and get independant observers in to monitor elections or they Will steal them.

PaulLillebo
PaulLillebo

Nobody knows what "a Republican" really is. A Republican today could be something else tomorrow. So, of course you should "lie". If you want to vote for someone on the Rep ballot, be a Republican for 5 minutes. But it isn't really a lie, since it's done under duress.


Let's hope the governor's bill succeeds and this sort of nonsense is stopped. In any case, we need to move to open, non-partisan primaries.


Steve Bourdage
Steve Bourdage

Virginia Officials can stuff it. They are Americans and they will vote any way they want. At least the LEGAL ones will. The illeagle ones and the dead who voted for obama will still vote for the dems.

Patricia Phillips
Patricia Phillips

No party system would be better. Americans should be able to vote for whoever they choose.

Tom Winn
Tom Winn

Having to pledge is wrong. Should be able to vote for whomever you want.

Dave Singley
Dave Singley

That is against every American principle... shame on them!

Bob Wempe
Bob Wempe

Pledge loyalty to a political party? That is absurd. You vote for the person, not the party. We would be much better off to ban parties and strictly vote for the individual.

Greg Glenn
Greg Glenn

Kick her out of office. That is illegal.

Ray Leghart
Ray Leghart

The government should get out of the business of running primary elections. Let the parties do their own work of choosing a candidate. All the present system does is strengthen the two party system.

Bobby Clone
Bobby Clone

Party loyalty is one of the prime reasons this country is in trouble!! Both parties are mired in corruption and graft. We need to eliminate the two parties to save our country. They have essentially controlled our voting process for the past 100 years, selecting who we have to choose from.

Pamela Chamberlynn
Pamela Chamberlynn

every citizen has the right to vote. this is illegal. but of course that will have to be a court case. i wrote the ACLU decades ago offering to be a test case in florida that i refused to register with a party. i never heard back from the ACLU. now fortunately they have a registration category for No Party Affiliation. of course i had to register democrat temporarily to vote in the dem primary for bernie. no problem. i'll switch right back to NPA. but the point remains that we should NOT ever have to register with a party.

Dianne LaPierre
Dianne LaPierre

I don't understand this. If you declare yourself a democrat, can you not vote for a republican for any position, or just straight democrat? Is Indiana like this?

Sue Foy
Sue Foy

Bullcrap they should be no pledge for any party we should be able to choose the right person without choosing a part that is what got us here in trouble in the first place , There is good people that can serve as good as they can Vote Trump vote to get ris of party's

Sharon Kuntzman
Sharon Kuntzman

NO ONE CAN REFUSE TO LET YOU VOTE. NO ONE. YOU CAN VOTE FOR WHOM EVER YOU WANT. THEY CANNOT TELL YOU WHO TO VOTE FOR EITHER.

Kristen Taylor
Kristen Taylor

I don't pledge my loyalty to a party, I pledge to the person. No government has the right to tell someone they can't vote unless they pledge to support a party. Hell you don't even want to ask for ID's to vote but you want people to pledge to a party??!!! Freaking idiots run the government

Jesse Bell
Jesse Bell

Same thing Maryland does, pisses me off. I'm trapped in 'my' party.