The Republican nominee for governor Glenn Youngkin commented Monday about what he would want to see happen to the Department of Elections in Virginia if he became governor. He also called for audits on voting machines and expressed his support for requiring voter ID laws.
“I want to take the Department of Elections and move it out of the governor’s office. I just don’t think it should be political,” Youngkin said during an event with the Richmond Crusade for Voters. I think it should be independent and a governor, whether it’s me or somebody else, should not be allowed to tinker with the Department of Elections.”
The Dept. of Elections is governed by the State Board of Elections (SBE), a five-member board that oversees the election process in Virginia. The board’s partisan makeup is three members from the party of the current governor and two members from the losing party. The governor appoints members after receiving recommendations from each party.
Youngkin’s campaign did not immediately provide clarification to Virginia Scope as to how they would move the Dept. of Elections from the executive branch.
During the event Monday, Youngkin also said he wants to conduct audits of voter machines across Virginia. “I think we need to make sure that people trust these voting machines,” Youngkin said. “And I just think like, I grew up in a world where you have an audit every year, in businesses you have an audit. So let’s just audit the voting machines, publish it so everybody can see it.”
Voter machines in Virginia are already audited after each election, however. “Va. Code §24.2-671.1 requires the Department of Elections to coordinate an annual post-election risk-limiting audit of ballot scanner machines, which will be performed by the localities,” the Dept. of Elections handbook reads. “The purpose of the audit is to study the accuracy of ballot scanner machines.”
A spokesperson for Youngkin said that these are not new positions for the Republican nominee. “As Glenn Youngkin said in February, he believes audits are a best practice when it comes to administering elections—just as audits are a routine best practice in the business world—and he will ensure Virginia continues to conduct audits and that they are thorough, efficient, and accurate,” a spokesperson for Youngkin said. “Glenn has been clear about his view of the 2020 election and nothing has changed. With less than a month until Election Day, Glenn will continue to speak with voters about his plan to cut costs for all Virginians by eliminating the grocery tax and slashing taxes for all Virginians, fulling funding law enforcement to make our communities safer, and Terry McAuliffe’s comments that parents should not get a say in their children’s education.”
While Youngkin has had to continually walk the election integrity line to not alienate the Republican base or the moderates in his party, he has always stayed strong with his belief that photo ID should be required to vote. “I do think people showing up with a picture ID is a good thing And this is not an issue to keep people from voting,” he said Monday. “It’s just to make sure that folks are who they say they are when they come vote, and people seem to trust that, that seems to be uniformly supported regardless of party.”
Youngkin’s Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe responded on Twitter by sharing the news and tweeting, “give me a break.”
The election to elect Virginia’s next governor takes place on Nov. 2.
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