Vote on bill is upsetting

Published 7:54 am Wednesday, March 10, 2010

To the Editor:

With all the hype about guns and ethics, a serious action in the General Assembly seems to have gone unnoticed or unreported.

HB 527, which passed the House 96-3 and would have provided for a director of elections, was defeated in the Senate P&E committee by a vote of 8-7.

This bill would have allowed the State Board of Elections to be lead by a career professional rather than a political appointee who changes every time a new governor is elected. The eight nay votes were Democrats and the seven yeas were six Republicans and one Democrat. This party-line voting is difficult to understand when an identical bill passed the full Senate 34-6 in 2006, later being vetoed by Gov. Tim Kaine. This bill was considered to be cost neutral.

The Virginia Electoral Board Association, a nonpartisan group made up of the Electoral Boards of the 134 jurisdictions in the state, has sought this action since its inception in 1975. As a member, I would like to thank Delegate Bill Barlow for his support in the House, and Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, who as the lone Democrat allowed the bill to get out of the sub-committee. Perhaps the word “statesmanship” applies here. Also, thanks to Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, for his support in full committee.

William Bell