SBE task force to focus on residency requirements

Brent Finnegan -- April 23rd, 2009

From the most recent chapter of the college student voter registration story, which gained attention last September: The State Board of Elections is forming a task force to examine the residency requirements of voters in Virginia. reports:

The State Board of Elections announced the creation of the 12-member task force on Thursday, acting on legislation passed by the General Assembly.

In the 2008 elections, as in previous election cycles, student registrations emerged as an issue. Conflicting opinions were issued by local registrars across the state on the use of dorm addresses as permanent residences by student voters.

The official SBE press release (thanks to Karl for forwarding that to me) states:

The task force will be lead by SBE Chair, Jean Cunningham, and will include 12 members representing local registrars, electoral boards and a number of different voter advocacy groups. “It will provide an opportunity for voter registration groups to work hand in hand with those responsible for administering elections in Virginia to better the election process,” Cunningham said of the task force.

Suzanne Obenshain, wife of Sen. Mark Obenshain, is among the nine members of the task force who have already been appointed. The DNR story referencing Suzanne Obenshain’s endorsement of Debbie Logan for Harrisonburg Registrar no longer exists (I really should blockquote more often).

The entire list of officials already selected for the task force:

Cynthia Schappelka, Electoral Board Vice Chair, Montgomery Co.
Marty D. Caldwell, Electoral Board Vice Chair, Orange Co.
Suzanne Obenshain, Electoral Board Secretary, Harrisonburg City
Tracy Howard, Radford City General Registrar
Win Sowder, Williamsburg City General Registrar
Joyce S. Braithwaite, Winchester City General Registrar
Olga Hernandez, President, Virginia League of Women Voters
Steven Jones, Virginia21
Peggy Sanner, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights

The SBE release adds that “the remaining positions will be filled as soon as possible.”

6 Responses to “SBE task force to focus on residency requirements”

  1. cook says:

    I am pleased that this issue has not dropped off the radar, and I hope that the focus is broader than the short-term strategy question of whether college students would or would not vote for my candidate. The statues and legal notions involved are designed for the culture of the 19th Century. This is an opportunity to re-think participation in elections in light of our current culture and available technology.

  2. JGFitzgerald says:

    Well said, Cook. Despite federal rulings on this topic, a renegade registrar can still interpret state law to match her own political leanings and personal prejudices, two things that should be kept out of the registration process. Someone in that position should be carrying out the law, not making it up on the fly. Given a choice between this task force and a criminal investigation of the local office, this is probably better in the long run, albeit less satisfying.

  3. seth says:

    sweet sweet schadenfreude

  4. Deb SF says:

    Would be interesting if a student or two were on the task force.

  5. Great idea, Deb. Lots of things are changing right now. I wish that those in power would start thinking forward. I also like cook’s suggestion:

    “The statues and legal notions involved are designed for the culture of the 19th Century. This is an opportunity to re-think participation in elections in light of our current culture and available technology.”

    We are living in a new century.

  6. Peacelily says:

    Deb SF – Virginia 21 is a student group that has worked for years to to ensure student rights and foster participation in the political process.

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