The Virginia Senate rejected a bill Wednesday that would have added party affiliation to ballots in some local elections.
Under state election law, ballots list party affiliation only for federal, statewide and General Assembly races. The idea is that omitting the party designation helps keep partisan politics out of local races.
But in reality, candidates for local offices file as Republicans and Democrats and tout party endorsements in campaign literature. By law, school board offices are nonpartisan, so those candidates must file as independents. Even so, school board candidates can and do collect and advertise party endorsements..
Under a bill proposed by Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), ballots would have listed party affiliation for candidates who have been nominated by a party.
“The bill the Senate rejected is not about ending nonpartisan offices or elections; it’s about putting an end to the charade when party nominees stand for office without identifying their political party,” Obenshain said in a written statement. “It’s time to stop pretending that a party nominee’s partisan affiliation isn’t meaningful information and isn’t worth sharing with the voters.”
Sen. Chap Petersen (D- Fairfax City) spoke against the bill.
“I represent two jurisdictions, Fairfax City and Town of Vienna, which have a history of nonpartisan elections, as required by their respective charters,” he said. “Nonpartisan elections are part of their culture, and the citizens like it that way. There is no request to change the law.”