Letter: Chairwoman Swecker to Commissioner Beals, Concerning Buckingham County
RICHMOND, VA – Last week, Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker addressed Virginia’s Electoral Board following the resignation of Buckingham County’s entire election staff.
After addressing the Virginia Electoral Board, Chairwoman Swecker sent the following letter to Commissioner Beals:
———-FULL TEXT OF LETTER BELOW———-
April 21, 2023
Ms. Susan Beals
Virginia Department of Elections 1100 Bank Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Dear Commissioner Beals,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the Board and staff last week. It is my hope that my remarks – which I’ve included a copy below – will be given the utmost consideration. I have also included for reference a copy of previous Chair Brink’s correspondence to RPV Chair Rich Anderson from last year, which I refer to in my remarks.
Virginia has had a reputation — no matter which party holds the governorship — of running fair elections in a professional manner.
Recent actions in Buckingham and Lynchburg threaten to undermine that legacy.
I want to reference a letter that the Republican Party Chairman and I received last year from then-Chairman Bob Brink, dated April 22nd, referencing Virginia Code § 24.2-103 and the responsibilities of State Parties in coordination with local electoral boards.
“Although the bipartisan board is appointed by the circuit court based on local party recommendations, each member must carry out their official duties in a nonpartisan manner. Electoral board members must demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively with the other members of their board in the conduct of elections and in making decisions regarding budget, employment, and election law issues.”
NBC News reported that Rick Caldwell, a Republican who served on the electoral board through last year, said local Republican leadership told him the State GOP expected elected electoral board members to be more involved in local Republican politics.
This contradicts the intent of Chairman Brink’s letter.
Further, there is clear legal precedent that registrars shall not be let go without cause — yet electoral boards in both Buckingham and Lynchburg have taken the unusual step of posting the job when the term is up — despite no poor yearly reviews.
I want to reiterate: Virginia runs free and fair elections regardless of the party in power and regardless of the outcome. We have hard working registrars and local elections staff.
We have a hard working commissioner and State Department of Elections staff. I appreciate how they have stepped in to help the situation in Buckingham, but it never should have gotten that far.
This is what happens when legitimacy is given to election deniers. This is what happens when the people who show up with their binders full of research-they-did-on-the-internet aren’t immediately dismissed by leaders in both parties.
I would ask today that this new board, composed of highly qualified individuals who understand what is at stake, speak up strongly and firmly about the need to conduct our election business with the utmost integrity and professionalism, and immediately debunk the false claims of election fraud.
I ask also that the agency under the leadership of Commissioner Beals, as well as the office of Governor Youngkin, do the same.
And, finally, I would ask that, as Chairman Brink did in 2022, that this State Board of Elections puts these principles in writing and distributes them to both parties, registrars, and electoral board members.
Thank you again for your willingness to let me speak before the Board and I would be happy to answer any further questions you, the Board, or staff might have.
Susan R. Swecker Chairwoman
Democratic Party of Virginia