Arlington Democrats say they’re planning to conduct the upcoming School Board endorsement caucus via the mail, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“This extraordinary procedural change supports Virginia’s stay-at-home order and recommended social distancing measures necessitated by the global coronavirus pandemic,” the local party said, in a press release.
Starting today, Arlington Democrats can request a ballot online. The ballot request deadline if May 7, and the deadline for submitting the ballots is May 30.
There are five candidates — Steven Krieger, Cristina Diaz-Torres, David Priddy, Sandy Munnell, and Terron Sims — seeking the Democratic endorsement in the race for the School Board seats being vacated by incumbents Tannia Talento and Nancy Van Doren. A sixth candidate, Symone Walker, is no longer seeking the Democratic endorsement and is instead running as an independent.
The full press release about the vote-by-mail change is below.
After consulting with the five candidates seeking the endorsement of the Arlington County Democratic Committee to fill two open seats on the Arlington School Board, Arlington Dems today launched a process to conduct its endorsement caucus by mail. This extraordinary procedural change supports Virginia’s stay-at-home order and recommended social distancing measures necessitated by the global coronavirus pandemic.
“We had lengthy internal discussions about how to run our endorsement caucus responsibly during the coronavirus pandemic,” Arlington Dems Chair Jill Caiazzo said. “We determined that, given our available resources, the only safe and reliable option for a large-scale caucus is to conduct the vote by mail.”
The caucus will take place in four phases:
- Voter Validation and Ballot Request. Effective today (April 7) at 9 a.m. EDT, Arlington Dems will launch a secure online ballot request form via the Arlington Democrats website at www.arlingtondemocrats.org/school-board-caucus. To begin the process to receive a ballot, prospective voters will provide standard identifying information that will allow Arlington Dems to validate that they are Arlington County registered voters. Although online submission of the form is strongly preferred, a PDF version will be available for downloading and mailing to Arlington Dems. All ballot requests must be received (not postmarked) by May 7.
- Ballot Mailing. Registered voters whose requests are received by the May 7 deadline will receive their ballots by U.S. Postal Service mail. Ballots will be mailed on a rolling basis. Arlington Dems will include stamped, self-addressed envelopes with ballots, which voters are strongly encouraged to use to return their ballots. They will be returned to a post office box exclusively devoted to receiving School Board Caucus ballots.
- Voting. The deadline for receipt (not postmark) of completed ballots by Arlington Dems is May 30. Voters are strongly encouraged to immediately complete and return their ballots to ensure they are received by the deadline. Candidate representatives will be able to watch ballots being retrieved from the post office box and secured through live video-conferencing or in person, the latter provided they observe recommended social distancing measures. No ballots will be counted until all are collected after the May 30 deadline.
- Counting and results. Arlington Dems will begin counting the ballots the morning of May 31, or as soon as possible after that date. Observing recommended social distancing measures, Caucus leadership will open envelopes and validate the authenticity of enclosed ballots. Candidates or their representatives may observe the process via live video conferencing. Arlington Dems will use a process to anonymize ballots during the ballot counting, which will be conducted using a virtual procedure.
“Arlington Dems will use a secure and efficient procedure to open, validate and count ballots,” Arlington Dems’ School Board Caucus Director Jacki Wilson said. “Because of the logistics of observing recommended social distancing measures, we anticipate this process may take several days. We expect to report the caucus election results no later than June 9.” That date is the filing deadline set by the Virginia Department of Elections for candidates running in the Nov. 3 general election for the School Board seats.
The decision to transform the endorsement caucus from in-person to vote-by-mail is consistent with the Arlington Dems call to action for Democratic voters to cast absentee-by-mail ballots in Virginia’s June 9 primary, which includes a Democratic contest for an Arlington County Board seat. “This pandemic is challenging our country and our democratic processes as never before,” Caiazzo said. “Nevertheless, Arlington Dems will persist. Just as we have called for voting by mail in the June 9 primary, we will conduct this vote-by-mail endorsement caucus in a secure, transparent and methodical manner that protects the public health and ensures the integrity of the vote.”
Additional information about the Arlington Dems endorsement caucus, including the ballot request form, is available at www.arlingtondemocrats.org/school-board-caucus. Information about the five candidates seeking the Arlington Dems endorsement is available at www.arlingtondemocrats.org/vote/candidates (Scroll to the bottom of the page for School Board candidates.). Both pages will be regularly updated as the caucus process progresses. Questions about the process may be directed to [email protected] org or 703-528-8588 ext. 4.
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