Local Commentary

Delegate Scott’s Richmond Report

scottmugLow voter turnout? Bad for Dems?

It now appears that there will be a lower than usual voter turnout for a gubernatorial election.

Typically, the gubernatorial election produces the second highest voter participation of the 4-year cycle. The Presidential election produces the most voters.  Last year Virginia-and Northern Virginia-voters came to the polls in unprecedented numbers.

 

Because we are so close to Washington and receive so much information about the action, inaction and controversies there, normal voter turnout is very much in question. That may work to the disadvantage of Democrats because polls suggest that some Democrats and independents that might be expected to vote will stay home.  Obviously that could be bad news for Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon.

It is up to YOU

Disaffection and a low turnout among Dems and independents could also hurt Democratic chances of gaining control in the House of Delegates. That would probably lead to continued stalemate on transportation and education funding that we have seen in the past 4 years.

I have long been interested in what government can do that will encourage people to participate more in the most elemental act of democracy: voting.

Several years ago, I introduced Virginia’s “motor voter” law that directed the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies to allow eligible people to register in their offices

Governor Allen vetoed the bill, and initiated a challenge in Federal Court to overturn the Federal law. When the Federal District Court denied the Governor’s request, the Assembly passed the measure again, and he signed it.

Emergency $ for needy Virginians

John Horesji, coordinator of SALT, one of Virginia’s most effective advocacy coalitions for low-income families, brought to my attention a unique opportunity to help poor families with immediate assistance to get through current short-term crises. As a result, Senator Janet Howell and I have sent a letter to the Commissioner of Social Services urging him to use existing state revenue streams as a match for $79 million available from the Federal TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).  In short, immediate help would be available by using existing funds for the required matching dollars.

While this action can be taken by the Department of Social Services, under existing authority, to free up the emergency funds, Senator Howell and I plan to introduce legislation to ensure that the authority to participate in the TANF Emergency Fund continues in the future.