Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: April 29, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation Hindering Steady Leadership for Department of Elections

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed House Bill 1620 and Senate Bill 1455, which would create a structure that sets up the Department of Elections for potential challenges. The Governor’s full veto statements are below.

House Bill 1620

April 29, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1620. House Bill 1620 would increase the membership of the Board of Elections (Board) from three to five members and gives the Board, rather than the Governor, the power to appoint the Commissioner of Elections.

This legislation creates a structure that sets up the Board and the Department of Elections for potential challenges. This legislation seeks to adopt a board structure similar to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), an entity faced with dysfunction in recent years. The FEC appointees’ inability to come to a consensus has meant failure to fill key leadership positions. This legislation would also hinder the Governor’s ability to appoint the leadership of an executive branch agency by requiring that four out of five Board members agree on a Commissioner of Elections. This could lead to delays or a lack of appointment all together. In a state that has an election every few months, it is imperative that Virginia’s electoral system have steady leadership.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

 

Senate Bill 1455

April 29, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1455. Senate Bill 1455 would increase the membership of the Board of Elections (Board) from three to five members and gives the Board, rather than the Governor, the power to appoint the Commissioner of Elections.

This legislation creates a structure that sets up the Board and the Department of Elections for potential challenges. This legislation seeks to adopt a board structure similar to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), an entity faced with dysfunction in recent years. The FEC appointees’ inability to come to a consensus has meant failure to fill key leadership positions. This legislation would also hinder the Governor’s ability to appoint the leadership of an executive branch agency by requiring that four out of five Board members agree on a Commissioner of Elections. This could lead to delays or a lack of appointment all together. In a state that has an election every few months, it is imperative that Virginia’s electoral system have steady leadership.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

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