House GOP strips elections department of voter education funding; Senate Democrats block GOP election bills | Govt-and-politics

The budget proposal from Republicans in the House of Representatives calls for a $ 2.7 million cut in proposed funding by the Virginia Department of Elections to pay for an educational campaign that seeks to dispel misinformation about the fairness of state elections.

Following baseless Republican allegations that the 2020 election was fraught with fraud, last year the department launched a voter education campaign to inform voters about how the state election is being conducted, to refute false information and answer common questions about the voting process.

Meanwhile, a Democrat-controlled Senate group on Tuesday shut down a number of election bills passed in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, including measures to restore the photo ID requirement and reduce the absentee ballot to two weeks.

The voter education campaign included advertisements on television, radio and newspapers, social media posts and a website called “myth-breakers”. Then the governor. A request for funding from Ralph Nortem would pay for the continuation of these efforts.

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The Democrat-controlled Senate has decided to keep funding in its budget proposal, which has led to a clash between the two chambers as they reconcile their budgets.

Virginia Election Commissioner Chris Piper said the move by Republican Republicans was “disappointing” and called on the legislature to continue funding the work as disinformation about the election continues to spread. Del. Cliff Hayes, D-Chesapeake, who sits on the subcommittee that proposed cutting the request for funding, also opposed the move.

The Congress of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly and the chairman of the subcommittee on appropriations of the House of Representatives Del Rob Blox, R-Accomack, did not respond to a request for comment.

In the run-up to the 2021 governor of Virginia, allegations of fraud by some Republicans revealed months after disinformation about the 2020 election led to a deadly uprising in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

During a Republican rally to enlist the support of Gov. Glen Yangkin and other Republicans vying for office, former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that his 10-point defeat in Virginia by Democrat Joe Biden could only be a product of fraud. Trump also told Republicans to fear an outcome if Youngkin does not win.

Youngkin reflected on the fairness of the 2020 presidential election during his candidacy, although he eventually acknowledged that Biden was elected “legally.” Yangkin also made the fairness of the election his first and for a time the only policy proposal during his Republican nomination.

In his first debate with Democrat Terry McAuliff last September, Youngkin said, “I don’t think there was serious fraud in the Virginia election,” and said he didn’t think Democrats would cheat by predicting we would have a clean, fair election, and I look forward to winning. ”

But the topic came to the fore again last month when Youngkin suddenly announced that he intended to replace Virginia’s election commissioner in an interview with conservative radio host John Fredericks.

Asked by Fredericks what Youngkin intended to do in the area of ​​good faith elections, Youngkin said he would replace Nortem nominee Chris Piper by the summer, arguing that the department’s leadership should “monitor the integrity of the electoral process, not try to be political.”

In a comment to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Piper defended the department’s voter education campaign, describing it as an attempt to restore confidence in the voting process.

One of the claims on the department’s Myth Against Facts page states: “Thousands of ballots were destroyed after the 2020 general election.” The department further explains that all ballots are retained and that when using this process it becomes apparent when they are missing.

“It is disappointing that the same chamber that spent the last few weeks passing bills allegedly aimed at boosting voter confidence in our election did not consider it appropriate to appropriate a modest sum to actually educate Virginia voters about how our elections are conducted safely. and safe, ”Piper said.

“Last year, Virginia ran a successful campaign, but more needs to be done to counter the misinformation that is so prevalent now. It is very important that the Department be able to build on the solid foundation that we laid in 2021. ”

Republican lawmakers cited many bills pending Tuesday in the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections Necessary to Protect Electoral Integrity, while Democrats accused the Republican Republic of trying to restrict people’s access to ballot boxes.

The committee rejected bills requiring a photo ID card, refusing ballot boxes, refusing to register on the same day, reducing the state’s 45-day early voting window to 14 days, and requiring absentee ballots to be returned to registrars before election day. for counting votes.

mleonor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6254

Twitter: @MelLeonor_

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