Ranked Choice Voting Bill Vetoed in VA


By Erin Marie Joyce

After months of lobbying by progressive-left groups, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has said no to a Ranked Choice Voting bill and vetoed the measure among the remaining stack of bills from the 2024 General Assembly.

The RCV bill he vetoed was on a list of bills that election groups were tracking throughout the Democrat-majority Virginia Assembly.

Of the 1,046 bills sent to his desk from the session, Gov. Youngkin signed 777, sent 116 back for amendments, and vetoed 153, saying the rejected bills did not meet bi-partisan thresholds.

EPEC Team has been monitoring the election bills in the stack throughout the session. Here is a rundown on the veto list and amendments:


SB 428 Ranked Choice Voting for local or constitutional offices:

As other RCV bills were carried over or died in committee, SB 428 remained in play throughout the legislative session, this one targeting local elections.

RCV in local elections received mixed and confusing reactions from voters and election administrators after Arlington gave it a test run in a 2023 local Democrat primary. Bottom line: Voters don’t like it.

Veto statement: RCV is new in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nationwide. Concerns have been raised about its use in general elections where some voters have found it confusing. A heightened risk of mistakenly erroneous ballot submissions raises concerns about disenfranchisement and an increased lack of voter confidence in election results.  Before RCV is further institutionalized and regulated at the Virginia Department of Elections, the legitimate questions of voters need to be answered.

SB 246, HB1454, Driver-privilege card Changes:

The bill would have made so-called “limited-duration” driver privilege cards for non-citizens nearly impossible to distinguish from driver licenses issued to citizens.

Election security groups raised the question: Why add more confusion to the process of verifying a voter’s eligibility during check-in?

Veto statement (both): This bill would also enable a person permitted by the Federal government to be in the United States for a limited duration to obtain a Virginia Driver’s license for a full eight-year term even though their eligibility to be legally present here may have expired.

HB 623, “Cause of Action” for election workers; local control:

With laws already on the books to protect citizens and election workers from harassment, HB 623 proposed extending “protected class” status to organizations whose members are election workers. Opposition groups dubbed the bill “invitation to lawfare” that would incentivize well-funded activist groups to target First Amendment-protected speech about election management.

It also would have moved responsibilities of local electoral boards into state-level decision-making.

Veto statement: Current law allows voters to sue for violations under the Virginia Voter Rights Act. The proposal will lead to administrative burdens and legal complexities that could hinder the fair and efficient administration of elections in our Commonwealth.

HB 1408, Guidelines from Dept. of Elections on Early Voting Locations:

Another “local control” bill that had election observers concerned, HB 1408 would have enabled state Dept. of Elections’ decisions over local voter satellite locations around the Commonwealth.

Veto statement: The Department of Elections currently maintains regulations and guidance regarding the establishment and operation of voter satellite offices in the General Registrar and Electoral Board Handbook. Therefore, this legislation is unnecessary. 

HB 26, Private Groups, NGOs to Issue Voter IDs:

The bill would have moved into the hands of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) a process of ID-issuance that has historically been the province of government agencies who are bound by statute, financial oversight, and guidance from the electorate.

Veto statement: Expanding this list presents additional complexities for poll workers in discerning which forms of identification are acceptable.

HB 1534, Removing voters’ right to challenge locally:

The bill proposed to remove a voter’s right to challenge the legitimacy of a voter’s registration to their locality’s registrar. Instead, three registered voters would have to team up to bring challenges to Richmond Circuit Court 60 days before an election. After the veto, the statute for voter challenges remains unchanged, for now.

Veto statement: This bill imposes stringent procedural hurdles for citizens seeking to raise objections to voter registrations and candidate eligibility, effectively limiting their ability to participate in the democratic process.


SB364 – “Harassment” of Election officers, Limits on First Amendment:

Since it first landed with a legal cut-out for social media companies to suppress users’ speech about elections, SB 364 has been narrowed and re-written in its intent to create a new “protected class” for election officials from threats. It allows their voting identities to be anonymous like federal officials and judges.

Updated versions came under criticism over vague language on “civil causes of action” built upon a “threat narrative” progressive groups were pushing with media allies about the need for the bill. During hearings on the bill, no one submitted any evidence of actual threats in Virginia toward election officials.

ACTION: Gov. Youngkin sent the bill back with recommended amendments to remove the “civil cause of action” language from parts of the bill and clarify the language throughout.

SB 300: voter registration; list maintenance activities, cancellation procedures, required record matches:

Some of the features of this bill appear to remove data-matching techniques for verifying eligibility of voters, and would change Dept. of Elections deadlines for verification. It could leave election officials with a narrowed time frame for checking eligibility data with other states to ensure voter lists are accurate.

For example, the bill “prohibits the use of voter data received from another state or jurisdiction or through a list comparison for list maintenance purposes when the data file does not include a unique identifier for each individual whose information is contained in the data file.”

ACTION: In his submitted amendments, Gov. Youngkin proposed the following:

The Department of Elections (the Department) shall convene a work group to examine and make recommendations regarding data collection and sharing for voter list maintenance.

The work group shall include representatives of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Health, Virginia State Police, Virginia Information Technologies Agency, Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court, Virginia Court Clerks Association, Virginia Association of Commonwealth’s Attorneys, and Voter Registrars Association of Virginia and other stakeholders as may be deemed necessary by the Department.

The Department shall submit the work group’s findings and recommendations to the Chairs of the House and Senate Committees on Privileges and Elections by November 30, 2024.

ACTION: Gov. Youngkin submitted similar amendments to a nearly identical bill, HB 904, which proposes a scoring method for voter-list maintenance decisions.

SB 196 relating to voter registration; list maintenance data standards; challenges to a voter’s registration:

The bill is kind of a grab bag of voter-list maintenance clarifications, and seeks to do away with statutes for voter challenges (see similar bill above in the veto list); it also offers clarity on voter-list management standards for voter eligibility.

ACTION: Gov. Youngkin’s recommendations struck out language that would have amended the statutes for challenging voters, such as 24.2-429, 24.2-430.

Language on voter list maintenance and modernization stays in the bill:

For example, section 4 of the bill would:

Require the general registrars to delete from the record of registered voters the name of any voter who (i) is deceased, (ii) is no longer qualified to vote in the county or city where he is registered due to removal of his residence, (iii) has been convicted of a felony, (iv) has been adjudicated incapacitated, (v) is known not to be a United States citizen by reason of reports from the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to з 24.2-410.1 or from the Department of Elections based on information received from the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE Program) pursuant to subsection E, or (vi) is otherwise no longer qualified to vote as may be provided by law.

Such action shall be taken no later than 30 days after notification from the Department. The Department shall promptly provide the information referred to in this subdivision, upon receiving it, to general registrars.

As for the amendments (and as the saying goes), we shall see. Mark your calendars for the General Assembly’s April 17th veto session.

Sign up for our weekly reports on Election and Voting News!


Post a comment

I accept the Privacy Policy