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Election Denial in Virginia

  • 0 Election Deniers currently hold statewide office with election oversight power.

  • 0 Election Deniers have held, or run for, statewide office since 2020.

The landscape in Virginia

None of the officials who oversee Virginia voting are Election Deniers, but the state has still been plagued by many types of Election Denier behavior.

Election officials have been deluged by bad-faith records requests and baseless allegations of misconduct. The state has only made their jobs harder by restricting donations to support election funding and pulling out of a partnership that keeps voter rolls accurate. And Virginia is one of 13 states where at least one state legislator was present at the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Four state legislators—state Senator Amanda Chase, along with Delegates Dave LaRock, John McGuire, and Marie March—were in Washington, D.C., at the time. Chase recently lost her primary, knocking her out of a re-election contest.

In addition, Virginia’s Attorney General has created a special unit to investigate election crimes—a troubling trend that does much more to erode voters’ trust in the system than it does to find actual cases of fraud. And activists in the state, inspired by election lies, are signing up poll watchers and election workers.

Six members of Virginia’s Congressional delegation voted to overturn election results, even after the violence at the Capitol.

0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.

Elections are run by the states. In Virginia, the Governor, Attorney General, and elections commissioner are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. In most states, the Secretary of State is the chief election official. Virginia is an exception: The elections commissioner holds that responsibility and is appointed by the Governor. It’s up to all of them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

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How Virginia compares

Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Virginia compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.

Election Denial in Southeast States

Sitting official is an Election Denier

  1. In Florida, the Governor appoints the Secretary of State. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is an Election Denier and appointed Cord Byrd as Florida’s Secretary of State in May 2022.
  2. In North Carolina, the Executive Director is appointed by the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
  3. In South Carolina, the Executive Director is appointed by the South Carolina Election Commission.
  4. In Tennessee, the Secretary of State is appointed by the legislature.
  5. In Virginia, the Governor appoints the Commissioner of Elections.

Voter turnout over time

Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Virginia elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.

Voter Participation in Virginia Since 2016

Attorney General
Secretary of State
  1. 2016 Presidential

    • President had a 66% voter turnout rate

  2. 2017 Off-year

    • Governor had a 43% voter turnout rate

    • Attorney General had a 43% voter turnout rate

  3. 2018 Midterm

    • Senator had a 55% voter turnout rate

  4. 2020 Presidential

    • President had a 72% voter turnout rate

    • Senator had a 71% voter turnout rate

Voter turnout

Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.

Beyond the ballot box

Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections. 

The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.

Read the full report

Legislative Interference in Virginia by Category

As of May 3, 2023, 5 bills had been introduced or were under consideration in Virginia. None have been enacted or adopted and none have been vetoed after passing.

These bills show that the threat to elections in Virginia, and all across the country, goes well beyond the ballot box.

  • Creating unworkable burdens in election administration.
    These bills would interfere with the basic procedures of election administration, increasing the risk of chaos and delay and enabling misleading claims of irregularity.
  • Requiring partisan or unprofessional election “audits” or reviews.
    These bills would establish vague post-election review schemes without the professional standards of traditional audits.
  • Usurping control over election results.
    These bills would give legislators or other state officials direct control over election outcomes.
  • Seizing power over election responsibilities.
    These bills would shift election administration responsibilities away from professional, nonpartisan officials and toward partisan actors in the legislature.
  • Imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.
    These bills would create or expand penalties for election officials in the ordinary execution of their jobs, including criminalizing inadvertent mistakes.