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Northam announces election plans

Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday announced a two-week delay in the June primary elections as well as a request to move May elections to the November general election date.

The governor made the announcement during his Wednesday afternoon press conference. He is exercising statutory authority to delay the June primaries by two weeks — from June 9 to June 23. He has made a request to the General Assembly to delay the May elections until the November general elections, and the legislators are expected to vote on that later this month.

“We’re in the middle of a public health crisis,” Northam said. “We have wrestled with our options, and none of them are ideal or perfect.”

He continued, “Elections are the foundation of democracy, and voting is a fundamental right, but no one should have to choose between protecting their health or casting a ballot.

“Holding in-person elections right now would put the health of voters and our election workers at risk,” he said.

Suffolk does not typically hold May elections, having moved its local elections to November in 2008. However, many localities, including some of its neighbors, still elect local representatives like City Council and School Board in May.

The governor’s proposal to the General Assembly includes the following measures:

  • There will be only one ballot in November.
  • Voters who are qualified in November will be able to vote in November. An individual who was not qualified in May but is qualified in November will be able to vote.
  • All absentee ballots already cast for the May election will be discarded.
  • And those officials whose terms are set to expire June 30 will continue in office until their successors have been elected on Nov. 3 and have been qualified to serve.

“Postponing these elections is the best way to protect democracy without endangering the public health or violating the stay-at-home order,” Northam said Wednesday.

“Free and fair elections are at the core of our democracy, and no Virginian should have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote,” Attorney General Mark Herring stated in a press release. “I’m proud to have worked closely with Governor Northam and his team on a solution that protects both public health and the integrity of our elections.”