Accomack County & Northampton County Democratic Committees
The January 2nd Accomack County Committee was very lively and well attended. There was a Vounteer Appreciation Potluck Dinner to kick off the evening. The food was delicious and the fellowship even better.
The featured speaker was Phil Hernandez, a Democrat and former Obama White House staffer who will be running for Delegate for the 100th District in the upcoming election. We were all very impressed with Phil's knowledge of the political process and his eagerness to get feedback from Eastern Shore residents.
We were very pleased to welcome several special VIPs who are serving or considering running for office in 2019 in Accomack County. Donald Hart and Renata Major from the Accomack County Board of Supervisors briefed us on the events of the BoS meeting earlier that evening.
Accomack County Board of Supervisors elected a new chairman, vice chairman, set the meeting schedule for 2019 and named the place and time for the monthly meetings which will continue to be at 5 p.m. the third Wednesday each month at the Board Chambers in Accomac. Longtime Supervisor Donald Hart will serve as Chairman in 2019 and Supervisor Reneta Major will serve as Vice-Chairman. There was also at least one other person who indicated that they are likely to be running for Supervisor in November 2019.
Dr. Ronnie E. Holden, Accomack County School Board Vice Chairman was also in attendence and he gave us a brief review of his vision for adjustments and improvements in the coming year. There were also a couple of people attending who expressed their interest in running for the ACPS Board in November - more on that as they formally announce.
There was a call for persons with an interest in being Precinct Captains and other volunteers as we ramp up for the November elections.
It was noted that both counties had contacted their respective Boards of Supervisors and managed to get a resolution to approve the ERA Amendment on their meeting agendas. It is notable that the state legislature is in the process of debating the ERA Amendment. Feel free to contact your representatives and let them know you support the ERA ratification.
Finally, there is a Women's March scheduled for January 19th in Washington, DC. You can get further information at www.womensmarch.com.
The next meeting of the Accomack County Democratic Committee will be held at 6 pm on Wednesday, February 6, 2019.
* Where: Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce Building, 19056 Parkway Road, Melfa, VA 23410
* When: Normally on the First Wednesday of each Month @ 6 pm
* Social Media: ACDC Facebook Page
The February meeting of the NCDC will address the committee's plans and agenda for the coming year. Most important, the meeting will feature, Phil Hernandez, a Democrat and former Obama White House staffer who will be running for Delegate for the 100th District in the upcoming election.
2019 will be a pivotal election year for local Democrats as we will have a capable and exciting candidate running in the Virginia House of Delegates District 100 race. The results of this District race could be a major factor in flipping the VA HD in 2019.
The February 2019 meeting of the Northampton County Committee will be 7 PM, Tuesday February 5, 2019.
* NCDC Meeting Location: Northampton Social Services Building, 5265 The Hornes, Eastville, VA 23347
* When: Normally on the First Tuesday of each Month @ 7 pm.
* Social Media: NCDC Facebook Page
Northampton County has several county offices up for election in 2019. These include Supervisors in District 4 & District 5, Commissioner of Revenue, Commonwealth Attorney, Sheriff and Treasurer. For more information on these offices please see the county website page at http://www.co.northampton.va.us/gov/registrar/elected_local.html
Gov. Ralph Northam took office a year ago as the quiet man of Virginia politics, a departure from high-octane predecessors such as Terry McAuliffe, Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner. But the country doctor soars into his second legislative session with a gaudy record of accomplishments that threatens to eclipse those of his mentors.
Northam oversaw the expansion of Medicaid after four years of failed attempts by Democrats. He reached bipartisan deals on lowering the felony threshold, overhauling state regulations and establishing dedicated funding for Metro. Amazon chose Virginia as one of its new headquarters, the unemployment rate is at a historic low and more than a billion dollars in new revenue is streaming into state coffers this year. The slideshow above shows these things and many others accomplished by our Governor.
For all that success, it’s fair to question how much credit Northam gets and how much is simply good timing and luck. And the next six weeks of the General Assembly will test whether he can maintain bipartisan relationships that enabled delicate compromises or whether pressure from Democrats to seize the momentum will push Northam into partisan standoffs.
With a short, 46-day session, and with all 140 seats in the House and state Senate up for election this fall, the challenge only gets tougher for Northam to keep his winning streak alive into a second year.
A History of the Virginia House of Delegates Website
Virginia has long been recognized as the birthplace of America. Leaders of our Commonwealth were the founders of the United States’ ongoing experiment in representative self-government. The story of American democracy began in Virginia in 1619 and continues today with citizen-lawmakers serving the Commonwealth.
The Virginia General Assembly website was originally developed in response to legislative initiative HJR482 (1995), which directed the Department of Information Technology and the Division of Legislative Automated Systems "to develop a prototype for providing access to the Legislative Information System through the Internet". The prototype system was successfully implemented and the results were reported to the General Assembly in House Document 25 (1996). From the prototype's foundation the current production system was re-designed and improved.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02), a former U.S. Navy Commander, this week secured a coveted seat on the influential House Armed Services Committee, where she will bring an experienced Hampton Roads military voice and perspective to national security issues.
“As a 20-year Navy veteran, I am honored to serve on the House Armed Services Committee. These are difficult times in a dangerous world, and our brave service members in Virginia’s Second Congressional District and across America deserve our strongest support,” Congresswoman Luria said. “Our warfighters need proper equipment, training, and funding so they can succeed in their missions to defend America. I will work every day to make sure our nation lives up to its values, and that our most courageous Americans are treated with dignity and respect.”
Congresswoman Luria is a proud graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Of all members in the House Democratic Caucus, she served the longest on active duty, having completed 20 years of active military service with the U.S. Navy.
A veteran of deployments supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Congresswoman Luria’s own background will inform the actions she takes while serving on the House Armed Services Committee. She served at sea on six ships as a nuclear-trained Surface Warfare Officer and culminated her 20-year Navy career by commanding a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors. Congresswoman Luria was one of the first women in the Navy’s nuclear power program and among the first women to serve the entirety of her career on combatant ships.
Elaine directed the Chief Administrative Officer of the House to withhold her pay for the duration of the government shutdown. She stated, "I have directed the Chief Administrative Officer of the House to withhold my pay until all our federal employees have been made whole. Congress should not be rewarded for poor performance."
The celebration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Birthday is attributed not to one man or to one race, but to principles that are universal. To remember Dr. King is to affirm the nonviolent pursuit of freedom, justice, and equal opportunity for all. In that spirit, the citizens of Northampton County (Virginia) will again join to celebrate Dr. King’s ideals and to recognize the progress our community has made toward those ideals.
This year’s 29th Annual Community Unity Breakfast will be held on January 21, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. in the cafeteria of Northampton High School. Tickets are $6.00 for adults and no charge for students. The featured speaker for the breakfast will be the Rev. Felton T. Sessoms, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Cape Charles, Virginia.
Pastor Sessoms served on the Town Council of Nassawadox for four consecutive terms and subsequently he was elected as the first African American to serve as Mayor for the Town of Nassawadox. Pastor Sessoms served as President of the Eastern Shore Community College Board. Pastor Sessoms was a member of the Northampton Fire and Rescue Inc, serving as a Shock Trauma Technician and a Firefighter II. Pastor Sessoms continued his community service by serving on the Northampton County Board of Supervisors. As a Supervisor Pastor Sessoms served on several committees that contributed directly to the enhancement of his community. Pastor Sessoms is a mentor and presenter of the Northampton Youth Cultural Enrichment Opportunity.
Pastor Sessoms conducts workshops, seminars locally and throughout the eastern seaboard training church leaders to boldly face the challenges of an ever-changing world and community through Christ. Pastor Sessoms continually displays an endless enthusiasm for the growth and success of youth throughout his community.
As always the focus will be on the youth of the community. The Eastern Shore Community Services Network, Inc., and Optima Health & Family Care, will coordinate a health booth on information relevant to health education and prevention.
Other vendors are welcome. In addition, voter registration will also be available. Attendees are asked to bring non-perishable foods for the needy. A special commemorative souvenir booklet will be sold to help fund this event.
WHEN: January 21, 2019 @ 8:30 am – 9:30 am
WHERE: Northampton High School , 16041 Courthouse Rd., Eastville, VA 23347
CONTACT: Jane Caberrus (804) 513-0532
Voting By Mail and No-Excuse Absentee Voting in Virginia
No-excuse absentee voting allows all qualified voters to exercise their right to vote regardless of location or status and eliminates the need for voters to share personal and private information with general registrars. A number of bills have been offered in the 2019 General Assembly Session that would expand absentee voting. The ACLU of Virginia supports no-excuse absentee voting and advocates for expanding access to the ballot box.
Most states have a method for any eligible voter to cast a ballot before Election Day, either during the early voting period or by requesting an absentee ballot. In 12 states, early voting is not available and an excuse is required to request an absentee ballot.
States can choose to provide three ways for voters to cast a ballot before Election Day:
1. Early Voting: In 38 states (including 3 that mail ballots to all voters) and the District of Columbia, any qualified voter may cast a ballot in person during a designated period prior to Election Day. No excuse or justification is required.
2. Absentee Voting: All states will mail an absentee ballot to certain voters who request one. The voter may return the ballot by mail or in person. In 19 states, an excuse is required, while 28 states and the District of Columbia permit any qualified voter to vote absentee without offering an excuse. Some states offer a permanent absentee ballot list: once a voter asks to be added to the list, s/he will automatically receive an absentee ballot for all future elections.
3. Mail Voting: A ballot is automatically mailed to every eligible voter (no request or application is necessary). In-person voting sites may also be available for voters who would like to vote in-person and to provide additional services to voters. Three states mail ballots to all eligible voters for every election. Other states may provide this option for some types of elections.
The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports legislation that allows all voters to cast absentee ballots for any reason by both in-person and by mail methods. This is commonly referred to as “no-excuse” absentee voting. This year, legislators have introduced several such bills: HB 1641 (Herring), SB 1026 (Spruill), and SB 1035 (Locke). We encourage the legislators to take up this legislation and ensure absentee voting is equally accessible to all Virginians.
Some of the legislation that has been introduced permits no-excuse absentee ballot voting in-person, but not by mail. While any expansion of Virginia’s limited absentee voting laws is a good step forward, legislators should expand no-excuse absentee voting to include both methods of absentee voting. We encourage patrons to amend their legislation to include no-excuse absentee voting by both methods. At a minimum, we encourage patrons to amend their no-excuse in-person absentee voting legislation to require localities to establish additional satellite locations to ensure that no-excuse in-person absentee voting is accessible to as many voters as possible.
If Virginia law limits no-excuse absentee voting to in-person only, qualified voters may be excluded from participating based upon a lack of readily accessible transportation, geography, income status, physical disabilities, and the constraints of modern-day individuals and families. There are localities in Virginia where voters do not have ready access to transportation that permits them to travel to designated locations to vote by absentee ballot in-person. In rural jurisdictions, some voters are not able to access the registrar’s office, which may be on the opposite side of the county. In urban locations, voters without vehicles may not have ready access to public transportation to travel to a distant absentee voting site. None of the proposed legislation establishing no-excuse in-person voting would alleviate these burdens, as they do not require local election officials to establish satellite in-person absentee voting locations and distribute them in a manner that is accessible and equitable, taking into consideration population density, public transit, and travel time.
Additionally, there are voters whose work or childcare schedules simply cannot accommodate the registrar’s limited office hours so that they could cast in-person absentee ballots. We are also concerned that by limiting absentee voting to in-person, it may disproportionately impact minority and rural communities and persons with disabilities.
To alleviate concerns about fairness and public disclosure of confidential information and to promote elections equally accessible to all qualified voters, the solution is to permit no-excuse absentee voting by both methods for all voters without requiring that any voter provide a reason or excuse. Any legislation establishing in-person absentee voting should require that election officials establish an equitable distribution of satellite in-person absentee voting locations in their locality and should not, unnecessarily limit the locations to public facilities if private facilities are well-located and accessible to all voters.
Excuse-Based Absentee Voting
Legislation has been introduced that would also expand the current list of statutory permitted reasons to vote by absentee ballot. It is commendable to expand access to absentee ballot voting and increase participation in our democracy, however, we believe that these proposals elevate certain classes of voters over other qualified voters largely for partisan political reasons. We strongly advocate that all voters should be permitted to vote by absentee ballot, and that no class of voters be given preferential treatment when it comes to exercising the fundamental right to vote.
Further, the “excuse-based” absentee voting law presents a current and continuing threat to the privacy of all absentee voters. The law currently requires voters to disclose private and sensitive information (e.g., pregnancy, disability status, caregiver responsibilities, business and personal travel plans) to establish eligibility to vote by absentee ballot. This information is being required by a law that provides no assurance that the information will be held confidential and secure, or that it will be available to defend against allegations of absentee ballot fraud, which is a class 4 felony for which there is no statute of limitations.
The only effective solution to the likely disparity associated with limited access to in-person voting and to the privacy concerns attendant on any “excuse-based” law is to amend Virginia law to permit no-excuse absentee voting in-person or by mail. No-excuse absentee voting allows all qualified voters to exercise their right to vote regardless of location or status and eliminates the need for voters to share personal and private information with general registrars. If the law remains “excuse-based,” we ask that legislators consider amending the law to provide adequate privacy protections and mandate the secure handling, maintenance and retention of voters’ confidential, personal information and ensure its accessibility to voters in cases where they are defendants in criminal cases involving alleged voter fraud.