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Northam asks to move May elections to November

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam requested that the General Assembly move the May general election and special elections scheduled for May 5 to the Nov. 3 general election date.

The move, according to a release from the Office of the Governor, was made to further mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The governor is also exercising his statutory authority to move the June primary elections from June 9 to June 23.

Moving the May elections will require action by the General Assembly.

“We have wrestled with our options and none of them are ideal or perfect,” Northam said. “Postponing these elections is the best way to protect Democracy without endangering the public health or violating the Stay-at-Home Order.”

Northam’s plan, if enacted, means there will be only one ballot in November. Additionally, anyone who wasn’t qualified to vote this May but becomes qualified in November will be able to cast their vote.

Perhaps the most controversial measure of the governor’s request involves absentee ballots. All absentee ballots already cast will be discarded. The release emphasizes that all Virginians will have an opportunity to vote for local elected officials in November.

Subsequently, officials whose terms are to expire as of June 30 this year will continue in office until their successors have been elected on Nov. 3 and have been qualified to serve.

Moving local elections six months into the future is an unexpected change for those who are seeking a seat on the Farmville Town Council.

At-Large Councilman Dan Dwyer supported the governor’s request, calling it fair and reasonable.

“There are more critical things at play here than postponing an election,” Dwyer said. “We are globally in a battle against an invisible foe. COVID-19 has cost people their lives, their jobs and possibly their businesses. Changing the date pales in comparison to what really matters these days. Fall will be here before we know it and I will gear up for re-election at that time. In the meantime, I will continue to serve town residents on council.”

Carl U. Eggleston, who served on the Farmville Town Council from 1984 to 1988 and is now seeking the at-large seat, felt similarly.

“I think the governor is looking out for the health and safety of everybody in the whole state,” he said. “It’s his responsibility and duty to see that he protects the health of Virginians.”

Eggleston said he would have liked the governor to consider counting the absentee ballots already sent in. He also suggested that both himself and Dwyer pick up their election signs displayed around town until elections are closer.

In his campaign announcement Eggleston said he would not go door-to-door prior to elections due to COVID-19 concerns. He said he may reevaluate the decision if things change closer to November.