HJR 681/SJR 363

Joint Subcommittee to Study Virginia's Election Process and Voting Technologies

May 15, 2001, Richmond

At its first meeting, the subcommittee received an overview of the current Virginia election process from the State Board of Elections covering:

  • the administrative structure,
  • voter registration and election procedures,
  • current voting equipment and technology,
  • election fraud issues,
  • voter intent standards,
  • recount and contest procedures, and
  • information on historical voter turnout.

Invited spokepersons for the NAACP, Electoral Board Association, League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Voter Registrars Association, and Virginia Municipal League highlighted a number of concerns and suggestions:

  • the need for training and educating election officers and voters,
  • the critical issue of funding for election reforms and the allocation of costs between the state and localities,
  • the need to be fully staffed and equipped on election day to decide questions on voters' registration status,
  • the benefits of split shifts for election officials on election day, and
  • cautions against imposing uniform statewide voting equipment requirements.

Professor Stephen K. Medvic of Old Dominion University presented his paper "Does Every Vote Count? An Analysis of Voting Systems and Rejected Votes in the 2000 Virginia Presidential Election." His paper analyzes the number of rejected votes produced by different voting equipment. Quoting from the report:

The conclusion of the report is that optical scan systems should be avoided (with the possible exception of those counted at the precinct as opposed to a central counting location), as should punch-card systems, particularly in jurisdictions with low incomes and few college graduates. Instead, Virginia localities should begin to adopt electronic voting systems.

An informative luncheon presentation focused on repercussions from the Florida presidential election scenario. Leonard Shambon, participant in the National Commission on Federal Election Reform, gave a comprehensive picture of the many studies and groups examining election process issues on the national scene and the progress to date. Professor John Harrison of the University of Virginia Law School outlined the issues raised by the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore and the extent to which equal protection clause requirements require uniform election procedures.

The Honorable James K. O'Brien, Jr., Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Mary Spain


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