Virginia's secret election
MORE THAN a million Northern Virginians are eligible to vote in Tuesday's statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, and most have made up their minds. That's the easy part of voting. Unfortunately, the State Board of Elections has made it needlessly complicated to determine ahead of Election Day which candidates will appear a little further down the ballot -- especially in races for the House of Delegates.
That's too bad, because the House itself has been the obstacle to a broad array of sensible legislation, ranging from adequate funding for building roads, to, well, making it easier for Virginians to manage their voter registration status online. Wouldn't it be nice to throw some of the rascals out?
It would be, if only you could figure out who the rascals are and which rascals are running against them. But just try going to the state Board of Elections site (http:/
There is a way to glimpse your ballot before Election Day, but many will need coaching to find it. Starting at the Board of Elections main site, click "Voter Registration Status" (under Quick Links), fill out the form (including date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number), click on "Find" and then, in microscopic type, the link that invites you to "view your ballot."
State elections officials say that making people jump through these hoops ensures that voters don't show up at the polls only to discover that they are not registered. But in hiding such basic information, the state is not really alerting the relative handful whose registration might not be in order; it is thwarting practically everyone who'd like an advance look at their ballots. What's more, thanks to House Republicans who killed a bill that cleared the state Senate unanimously this year, it's impossible for Virginians to update their registration online after a change of address or to apply online for an absentee ballot.
By contrast, Maryland makes it easier for voters to see their ballots online and even mails out sample ballots to every registered voter ahead of general elections. Shouldn't Virginia's election system also take a step into the 21st century?