Letter to the Editor: The Hopewell Electoral Board made an irresponsible decision

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By Patrick Washington – Chairman of the Hopewell Electoral Board

By the time this article is released, I am hoping that the State Board of Elections would have already overturned the irresponsible decision of the Hopewell Electoral Board.

I have served on the electoral board since 2016 and this year has been the most contentious and unfortunately, it may get even more contentious as the elections draw near.

While being the lone Republican, I definitely expect that there would be differences of opinion between me and the other two who are both Democrats. However, that is not the point of contention.

The point of contention is that my two peers on the electoral board have little to no understanding of the role of the electoral board and this latest episode is more than enough proof of it.

Each jurisdiction in the Commonwealth has a three-member electoral board. The party that controls the governorship gets two members and the other party gets one member. Therefore, currently, every county and city in Virginia has two Democrats and one Republican on their electoral board. However, there is a unique situation in Hopewell, Virginia in which both of the Democrats on the board refuse to listen to plain and simple reason.

Plainly, the main function of a local electoral board is to insure that elections are smooth and fair within their jurisdiction. It is our responsibility that nothing is done on behalf of the board that could be construed as giving advantage or disadvantage to any of the candidates.

The ballots that were approved by the electoral board had several candidates with their names printed in all caps while leaving the rest of the candidates’ names in regular print. Looking at a ballot like that, one could easily be led with the impression that the capitalized names are the preferred candidates. That would give those candidates an unfair advantage while disadvantaging all the other candidates.

One of our primary functions is the preparation of ballots and we are supposed to prepare the ballots in a fair and equitable manner. My two peers on the board voted to contradict that mission. By approving an obviously unfair ballot, the electoral board has abrogated its solemn responsibility and has made a mockery of the entire electoral process.

As members of the Hopewell Electoral Board, we have the primary role to guard the electoral process. We must not shirk this responsibility and it is ridiculous that Hopewell has to have the state to mandate us to do what should have already been done.

Unfortunately, the other two members ignored our board’s duty to insure a fair ballot and they voted to approve a ballot that will get rejected by the state when they could have done the right and equitable thing in the first place.

Watch the video that Graham Moomaw posted on Twitter of the debate between board members.


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