The opportunity doesn’t come around very often, but Virginians who are voting in the state’s June 8 primary election can legally vote for some candidates twice, because a handful of candidates are running for reelection in the House of Delegates while simultaneously running for statewide office, such as governor or lieutenant governor.
“Virginia law allows an individual who’s running for a statewide office to also run for an office in the House of Delegates,” said Chris Piper, commissioner of the state’s department of elections. “Though rare, that is perfectly allowed.”
It would typically not happen this way.
Normally, Virginia would hold a primary election for statewide offices one day, then hold another primary later in the year for House candidates, allowing the state to redraw legislative districts in the meantime.
However, the redistricting process is not happening as planned right now due to a pandemic-related delay in the release of U.S. Census data, so the primaries were not separated.
“In this particular instance, we have a few candidates for statewide office who are also running for their House seats,” Piper said. “The opportunity to vote for those individuals twice is something that can happen this year.”
There are four Democratic incumbent delegates impacted by the situation including Lee Carter, Mark Levine, Sam Rasoul and Jay Jones. Carter is running for governor, Levine and Rasoul are running for lieutenant governor and Jones is running for attorney general.
Under Virginia’s constitution, the state is supposed to redraw its district lines in 2021 as it does every 10 years.
The constitution also requires redistricting to be completed before the November general election, but that may not be possible due to the Census delay.
Virginia’s bipartisan redistricting commission, which is tasked with drawing maps for congressional and state legislative districts, released a lengthy statement expressing uncertainty.
“This is a significant change from previous redistricting years where Virginia would receive its redistricting data in February and this delay will obviously have an impact on the Commonwealth’s ability to have new House of Delegates districts established in time for the November 2021 election,” the commission said. “The fact of the matter is these constitutional requirements were written when the possibility of a pandemic and a monthslong delay in the delivery of Census data were just not contemplated.”
Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states that hold legislative races in odd years.