Election officers in Fairfax County received an email from the Fairfax County Election Board detailing how to deal with voters who wish to vote in the Republican primary but refuse to sign the pledge required by the Republican Party of Virginia.
Voters who refuse to sign the statement may not vote in the Republican Primary, but must be offered a provisional ballot.
Following are some FAQs:
- If someone refused to sign the statement, can they still vote? …
Va. Code § 24.2-545A states in pertinent part:
If the party has determined that it will hold a presidential primary, each registered voter of the Commonwealth shall be given an opportunity to participate in the presidential primary of the political party … subject to requirements determined by the political party for participation in its presidential primary. The requirements may include, but shall not be limited to, the signing of a pledge by the voter of his intention to support the party’s candidate when offering to vote in the primary.
Guidance from the Office of the Attorney General, related to the use of provisional ballots, has been revised and stated as: If a voter wishing to participate in the Republican presidential primary refuses to sign the Republican statement of affiliation, they must be offered a provisional ballot pursuant to federal law. …
So a person who refuses to sign the pledge will not be allowed to vote normally but will instead be offered a ‘Provisional Ballot,’ meaning their vote will not be counted via the voting machine on site but rather be considered for legality by the Board of Elections and then, if approved, be opened and counted at that time.
Provisional ballots have existed for some time and have been used very rarely in my experience as an election officer. The few that I’ve had to process have been for people who believed they were registered to vote in my precinct but whose name was not in the registrar. If the registrar states a person has voted via write-in ballot and they come to vote claiming they did not send in a write-in ballot, they are given a Provisional ballot.
If there are a significant number of voters who refuse to sign the pledge, the demand for Provisional Ballots will probably exceed the very limited number of provisional ballots allotted to each precinct. Also, the time spent by election officers—normally either the Chief or Assistant Chief election officer—will occupy a significant amount of their time and prevent them from giving their full attention to all other aspects of their duties.
Lastly, the email does not mention whether the provisional ballots will be accepted as legal votes or not. If the Republican Party of Virginia requires the pledge to be signed to cast a vote in their primary, can provisional ballots issued specifically for refusal to sign the pledge be counted? The Provisional ballot must be offered “pursuant to federal law.” Does Federal law demand the right to vote for these people but not the right for the votes to be counted?
Editor’s Note. An Election Officer in Fairfax County forwarded the above article to the Fairfax Free Citizen.