J. Christian Adams: VA Governor Makes Mistake in Vetoing Election Integrity Law

(ALEXANDRIA, VA.) – April 10, 2018: Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) President J. Christian Adams criticized Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s veto of SB 521, which would require investigations into counties with more registered voters than adult residents.

Senate Bill 521, introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain (Harrisonburg), would have required that local election officials investigate the underlying causes of why their rates of voter registration exceeded adult residents within their respective jurisdictions, according to data released by the University of Virginia. The bill also called for probes into incidents where a jurisdiction yielded more ballots cast than registrants able to provide them in a given election. Public reports of conclusions would follow.

Gov. Northam vetoed the measure, claiming such a law would unduly burden local officials.

Governor Northam has vetoed a good government bill. His veto ignores common sense and recognized best practices that ensure a reliable and accurate voter registration rolls,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said. “When a Virginia county or township has 101 percent voter registration or more, election administration can be improved to remove dead, relocated, and ineligible registrants. The veto will inspire confusion, waste, and fraud during elections. Under SB 521, no local official that successfully completed their duties would be given additional work. The Commonwealth of Virginia has failed its voters.”

In a 2017 report detailing the prevalence of “noncitizens” being removed from Virginia’s voter rolls, PILF noted a number of bills previously vetoed like SB 521:

  • HB 2343: Provides resources to local election officials to identify voters registered in other states.
  • HB 1428 / SB 872: Requires voter ID for absentee ballots.
  • SB 1455: Criminalizes paying people to register voters.
  • SB 1581: Requires election officials to verify applicants using state and federal databases.

A separate 2017 report detailed best practices for states to consider when modernizing voter registration procedures—officially probing bloated voter rolls being one of them.

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. The Foundation exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.


Public Interest Legal Foundation