Update on the Electoral Board

March 8, 2013
The Electoral Board met for the first time yesterday since the appointment of Republican Brian Schoeneman to the Board to replace Hans von Spakovsky. Schoeneman was the Fairfax County Republican Committee’s second choice.

Two weeks ago, the Judges of Fairfax County Circuit Court picked Schoeneman for the post over von Spakovsky. Although we are not privy to the Judges’ reasoning, FCDC had filed a written objection to the reappointment of von Spakovsky.
Von Spakovsky, a leading national proponent of restrictive voter identification laws, is a highly controversial figure because of his promotion of unsupported allegations of widespread voter impersonation and other mythical election irregularities. FCDC argued that Mr. von Spakovsky was “temperamentally ill-suited” for the position. He had initiated removal of multi-lingual voter registration materials and nonpartisan Voter Guides from the Office of Elections which had been posted on the counter for 30 years. He obstructed FCDC’s efforts to resolve restrictions on the speech and movement of poll watchers. It also could not have helped that his former colleagues in the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Section had engaged in an extensive letter writing campaign against his appointment to another position, due to his long history of choosing ideology over facts in relation to voting issues.
As the Electoral Board meeting progressed, it was clear that a more reasoned approach was operating. With Schoeneman’s support – and over the objections of the Registrar Cameron Quinn – the Board initiated the extension of satellite in-person absentee voting for three additional Saturdays starting September 28. The Board also modified onerous demands for prepayment of the costs of the parties’ requests for documents under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Schoeneman also agreed to reconsider the ban of the League of Women Voters literature. The parties’ representatives at the meeting found themselves in agreement on most other issues, and jointly chastised Ms. Quinn for using FCDC’s litigation as an excuse for muzzling her staff during proceedings of the Bipartisan Election Process Improvement Commission.
Mr. Schoeneman can be expected to be a staunch advocate for Republican interests with as much vigor as Mr. von Spakovsky, and bears closer watching as there was little subtlety in Mr. von Spakovsky’s voter suppression efforts.  However, there was a renewed sense of possibility and common purpose at the Electoral Board meeting yesterday.