Some registrars misstate Virginia law by requiring election workers to claim affiliation with either Democratic or Republican partyRichmond, VA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia earlier today sent a letter to State Board of Elections Secretary Donald Palmer asking him to educate registrars about the eligibility of third party and non-party individuals to serve as election officers.
“We have heard that some registrars are not allowing qualified individuals to act as election officers unless they identify as either a Democrat or Republican,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire G. Gastañaga. “This contradicts the Virginia Code, which clearly allows the electoral board to appoint election workers who represent neither of the major political parties. Registrars should not turn away or discourage people from participating for the sake of expediency.”
According to the Virginia Code, the two political parties having the highest and next highest number of votes for Governor in the preceding election must be equally represented when there an even number of officers at a poll and can vary by only one each at any precinct with an odd number of officers. The Code goes on to permit an electoral board to appoint officers of election who represent neither major political party as long as those individuals do not act as chief officer or assistant officer of the precinct and the total number of third party/nonparty election officers does not exceed one-third of the total number of election officers for the precinct.
“Registrars are misstating the law and in doing so, are compromising the right to free association,” added Gastañaga. “Party affiliation has no bearing on an individual’s ability to help ensure a fair election. While we appreciate the effort to comply with the statute requiring equal representation of the major parties, individuals who associate with a third party or no party at all are equally deserving of the opportunity to participate in the election process and perform their civic duty.”
A copy of the ACLU’s letter to the Virginia State Board of Elections sent earlier today can be found online at: https://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/20121025SBELetterPollWorkers.pdf
ACLU of Virginia Contact:
Claire G. Gastañaga, Executive Director, 804-644-8022