By Carol Vaughn —
Gov. Ralph Northam in a briefing Wednesday said he will ask the General Assembly to postpone the May 5 local elections until November, and said he will exercise his authority to delay the June 9 congressional primary until June 23.
The General Assembly returns April 22 for a reconvened session.
“As other states have shown, conducting an election in the middle of this global pandemic would bring unprecedented challenges and potential risk to voters and those who work at polling places across the Commonwealth,” Northam said, adding, “Making these decisions now will help election officials prepare and implement the necessary changes. This is about protecting the health and safety of Virginians during this pandemic and ensuring our citizens can make their voices heard in a safe, fair, and uniform manner. I urge the General Assembly to do their part and take action to move our upcoming elections.”
Any absentee ballots already cast in the upcoming local election will be discarded, and voters will be allowed to cast a ballot in November, according to Northam.
The plan the governor is proposing includes the following measures:
There will be one ballot in November.
Voters who are qualified in November will be able to vote in November. An individual who was not qualified in May but is qualified in November will be able to vote.
All absentee ballots already cast will be discarded. Virginians will have an opportunity to vote for local elected officials in November.
Those officials whose terms are to expire as of June 30 will continue in office until their successors have been elected on Nov. 3 and have been qualified to serve.
Northam also announced that he is instructing the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to defer the due date for annual license and permit fees through June, which affects around 6,000 businesses.
Under the executive directive, Virginia ABC will defer collection of license renewal fees for 90 days from the original expiration date for establishments with licenses expiring in March, April, May, and June. Any penalties that would normally be associated with the late payment of such fees will be waived.
Additionally, Northam announced that mixed beverage license holders are now allowed to sell mixed drinks via delivery or takeout. The change goes into effect midnight Thursday.
“This unprecedented health crisis has had a tremendous impact on businesses across the Commonwealth, and restaurants have been hit especially hard,” Northam said, adding, “Allowing restaurants and distilleries that remain open to sell mixed beverages with takeout or delivery orders will help them augment their revenue streams, so they can continue serving their customers and employing Virginians. These actions will give establishments with mixed beverage licenses greater flexibility to operate while their dining rooms are closed.”
In another briefing Monday, Northam urged Virginians to wear face coverings when outside their home, in accordance with new CDC guidelines.