Lawmakers are about to return to Richmond for a General Assembly with social distancing. One issue that could become a flashpoint is what happens to local elections.
All those municipal elections across Virginia that were supposed to happen in May will not be happening in May because of social distancing. Governor Ralph Northam says they should be moved to November, but now a trio of Democratic senators says they should take place in June.
Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says candidates have already invested in spring elections.
“Candidates across the board have invested a lot of resources in a May election, and to move them at the last minute means all of those resources effectively were spent for very little," Kidd explains. "And then you’ve got to go raise more money.”
Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says moving the election to mid-June seems like a reasonable compromise.
“It gives people more time to get absentee ballots if they wish to do that," he says. "It also allows for something approximating the normal term length that had been agreed to in the previous election cycle, and it creates an environment where there isn’t a huge disadvantage to one party or the other.”
Lawmakers will be back in Richmond on Wednesday for a one-day session that could include moving the election if the governor calls a special session to take place the same day. Members of the House will be meeting outside in Capitol Square, and the Senate will convene in a museum.