Several key factors explain the incremental approach to election law after the 2000 presidential election. The close election in Florida spurred lawmakers in Virginia to create the Joint Subcommittee Studying Virginia's Election Process and Voting Technologies. This special subcommittee was formed to learn more about the capacity of election administration. Through that process, Virginia officials concluded that the election system was fundamentally sound, though they identified a need for additional resources to increase staff, improve polling place access for disabled voters, and clean up registration rolls. A declining fiscal outlook limited budget resources and constrained the legislature from adopting the joint subcommittee's modest recommendations for additional spending. Interestingly, partisan differences over the most controversial issue-recounting ballots-were overcome as a result of deliberation. The joint subcommittee's study created a forum within which a leading Republican senator changed his initial preference for how to recount ballots, and his view prevailed against the wishes of the Republican majority in the House of Delegates. Thus, in the case of Virginia, the deliberative process altered the policy views of a key committee leader, who in turn affected the outcome of the legislative process during the 2002 session. The legislature continued to pass incremental changes to upgrade the electoral system during 2003.
Copyright © 2005 Lexington Books. This chapter first appeared in Election Reform: Politics and Policy.
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Palazzolo, Daniel J., John T. Whelan, and Elizabeth Peiffer. "Election Reform in Virginia: Incremental Change." In Election Reform: Politics and Policy, edited by Daniel J. Palazzolo and James W. Ceaser, 108-122. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005.