Press Club

Virginia Primary Date Could Be Pushed Back This Year

Virginia lawmakers, preparing for a drawn-out redistricting battle, may consider pushing back this year’s state primary.

Redistricting occurs every ten years in conjunction following the U.S. Census. It traditionally is a partisan process, with the majority party drawing districts in a way that helps their election chances the most. This year, however, the Republican-controlled House of Delegates will have to work with the Democratic-controlled Senate.

As an added wrinkle, the plans will for the first time face the scrutiny of a Democratic Justice Department. Under the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department has oversight over Virginia’s redistricting process. Since the Voting Rights Act passed in the 1960s, redistricting has always occurred during a Republican presidential administration.

The legislature will enter a special session in April to carry out the redistricting process. To make sure delays don’t affect the state primary, scheduled for June 14, Del. Mark Cole (the Fredericksburg Republican of microchip implantation fame), has introduced a bill that would move the primary date to Sept. 13.

If passed, the bill would apply to all primaries in the state, including those for county officials.

Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington), speaking to the League of Women Voters of Arlington last night, said he believes the proposal will become law.

“I think it’s highly likely that this bill will go through,” Brink said.

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