Citing a need to restore trust in elections, gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin announced an Election Integrity Task Force on Monday.
“This is not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue, it’s a democracy issue,” Youngkin said in a press release. “Both parties have long raised concerns, and we must restore Americans’ faith in the integrity of our elections.”
Youngkin’s plan includes making the Virginia Department of Elections transparent and politically independent; monthly updates of voter rolls; verifying accuracy and timeliness of mail-in applications and ballots; requiring observer presence during ballot counting; and requiring voting machine audits. His press release said he would make election integrity a top priority.
“Ensuring trust in the election process and election results is paramount. Election integrity is a bipartisan issue with long established concerns among both political parties. In 2016, a YouGov survey found that 42 percent of Democrats believed the 2016 election was ‘rigged,'” the release states.
State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), who is also running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, agreed that there’s a problem with Virginia’s elections systems. She pointed to her experience as a legislator, including introducing elections integrity legislation.
“I think while it’s well-intended what [Youngkin is] trying to do, it shows his lack of understanding of how the General Assembly works, and I encourage him to instead of running for Governor, maybe he should run for a seat in the House of Delegates or the Senate,” Chase said. “Because this is what we have been working on in the Senate and in the General Assembly.”
She continued, “He goes on to say, ‘Both parties have long raised concerns, we must restore America’s base.’ That is actually not true. I believe the Democratic party has turned a blind eye to taking the rails off of our elections this past year under the guise of COVID. They have blatant disregard for the integrity of our elections.”
Chase said although the Governor can help set policy priorities, he has to know how to work through the General Assembly.
Candidate Sergio de la Peña told The Virginia Star, “The Democrats have hastily and illegally changed the voter laws. That has harmed the sanctity of our voter processes, and we may never know how much election fraud occurred.”
He cited experience as an international elections observer in his role as a Defense Department official, and said he disagreed with Youngkin about how to restore election integrity.
“I think the way to attack the problem is to go back to 2016 laws,” de la Peña said.
Delegate Kirk Cox’s Press Secretary Kristen Bennett said, “Delegate Cox has been at the forefront of election integrity, including through introducing HB 2088, which would make necessary changes to the State Board of Elections and in his pledge that if he wins the nomination he will fully fund an Election Integrity Team through the Republican Party of Virginia in 2021.”
HB 2088, which would have expanded the State Board of Elections from five members to six, was killed in a House of Delegates committee in January. Bennett said Cox has been working with the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) to improve election integrity.
“We will hire the best attorneys in the country, recruit dedicated volunteers at the local level, and provide staff support through RPV to ensure that we are monitoring the State Electoral Board, working with local Electoral Boards, and reviewing the decisions and actions of registrars well before Election Day,” Cox wrote in a letter to the RPV State Central Committee in November.
Cox wrote, “Working with RPV General Counsel and the Republican Governors Association, we will empower our party like never before to safeguard and secure the vote in 2021.”
Pete Snyder’s campaign spokesperson Lenze Morris told The Star, “Pete is committed to ensuring every legal vote is counted and every fraudulent vote prosecuted. Voter fraud is not a victimless crime, and it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Much like leading the charge on opening our schools, Pete is also gaining the trust of Virginians to restore voter confidence in our electoral process.”
“Virginians should not worry that votes aren’t counted properly or that improper voting occurred,” Youngkin said in his release. “I will ensure that all legal votes will count in Virginia. I hope all Virginians will join my campaign’s official Election Integrity Task Force and stand up for our democracy.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Fox Business. Background Photo “Virginia State Capitol” by Ron Cogswell. CC BY 2.0.