McAuliffe slash and burn budget cuts cause layoffs at the VA Department of Elections

With less than a month before the November General Election, the Virginia Department of Elections (ELECT) announced yesterday an immediate reorganization of the agency, including laying off three staffers and dissolving the Election Services section.  The move comes as a result of Governor McAuliffe’s demand that all state agencies cut 5% of their FY 2015 and 7% of their FY 2016 budgets to help off-set a projected $881 million budget deficit over the next two fiscal years. The ELECT cuts represent a reduction in General Fund spending of $146,828.

Yes, you heard that right.  Twenty days away from the mid-term elections, Virginia’s Department of Elections is reorganizing and cutting staff.   The agency will be heading into the November election with five vacancies, including the Deputy Commissioner and the head of the Election Administration section.

It bears repeating that this federal election includes a statewide Senate race, three open-seat Congressional races (in the 7th, 8th and 10th Districts) and a variety of local elections.  We are also heading into the first major general election with Virginia’s new photo ID requirements being in effect.

Is now really the best time to be cutting the office that oversees elections in the Commonwealth?

Three weeks before an election?

To save less than $200,000 to fix a budget deficit of $881 million?

As a Republican, you’re not going to see me complaining about cutting government spending, but there are right ways and wrong ways to do it.  Cutting the state Elections Department budget and forcing layoffs three weeks before an election is the wrong way to do it, especially when you’re about to implement new regulations that a good portion of the population believes will disenfranchise voters and reduce voter turnout.

Across the board cuts are generally a bad idea in any fiscal environment.  They hit good programs and critical programs as hard as non-critical programs.  It’s hard to understand why agencies like ELECT, the State Police, and the Department of Health are treated the exact same way as the Virginia Commission for the Arts, or any of the many museums and regional commissions and agencies.  Some agencies can absorb cuts better than others, and when you’re dealing with agencies like ELECT that are traditionally underfunded and understaffed, the cuts and layoffs make it even tougher for them to do their job – a job that is a core function of government.  ELECT is not a “nice to have” kind of agency.  It’s a must have.  Why treat core government functions the same way as those that aren’t?

The answer, of course, is politics – it’s easier to get cuts when you can just point to an across the board cut rather than having to duke it out with each agency and their lobby, picking winners and losers.  But when these across the board cuts have a greater impact on agencies with critical missions, politics shouldn’t be the deciding factor.  Doing what’s right by the citizenry should be #1.

It’s especially disconcerting to see this happening with the photo ID requirements coming into effect.  The photo ID system, which is administered locally but supported by ELECT, uses the statewide voter registration system to function.  When it goes down, localities are calling ELECT for support.  In Fairfax, we’ve already had problems with the system going down on weekends and not being able to get support from Richmond.  That’s only going to increase as more localities with fewer resources than ours are ramping up in the weeks before the election.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I find it frustrating to see these kinds of changes implemented less this close to an election.  Tinkering with anything related to elections this close to one immediately sets off warning bells in a variety of places, and it helps ramp up cynicism and suspicion – the last thing we need in an electorate that is already drowning in cynicism and suspicion of government.

Now is absolutely not the time to cut staff and budgets in the Commonwealth’s election agency. I also don’t understand why, when you’ve got the Governor on record saying he opposes photo ID and he’s concerned that many Virginians don’t know about the photo ID requirements, we are going to make it even harder for the state agency tasked with ensuring photo ID doesn’t impact voters to do its job.

Governor McAulife, in an interview with USA9 here in Northern Virginia asked “why are we making it harder for people to vote?”

I’ve got a question for him: Why are we making it harder for the Department of Elections to help people vote?

Given how small a number these cuts represent compared with the deficit, it’s hard to believe that there aren’t other areas that can withstand a $148,000 impact without major damage to their operations.  ELECT should be exempted from these cuts, at least until the end of the year.  At that point, with only a handful of special elections to worry about and less pressure coming from entire Commonwealth, these cuts and staff losses will be easier to deal with.

We don’t need any more reasons for voters to question if our elections are legitimate or if sitting politicians are trying to play games with the system.  Cutting ELECT a mere 20 days before the election was a bad idea.

  • Loudoun GOPer

    It’s pretty obvious why this is happening now. McAuliffe and the Dems don’t like the new voter ID law. They want to cause problems that they can try and get on camera on election day so they can use it in tv ads and a media campaign next year when it really matters.

    The races in VA this year are set in stone. There are only the 10 Congressional races and the Senate race to worry about (nobody cares about the small, local stuff) and all the incumbents are going to win re-election. Comstock will take Wolfs seat, so there will be no change from last year, and no amount of disruption that could possibly arise from the cuts taking place this year will affect the outcome of any race.

    If they can cause enough of a stink this year, and get some folks on TV crying about how they were denied the right to vote because they didn’t have an ID, they can then push to repeal or amend the voter ID law next year in the General Assembly. Either that or go before an activist judge and get the law thrown out or at least temporarily stayed until a higher court can hear it. I hear it is all the rage these days for Dems to get laws they don’t like thrown out by a single activist judge. Herring won’t defend the law. In fact, he would probably side with the plaintiffs against his client (the Commonwealth) again. Why we don’t have a recall petition circulating against him yet is beyond me.

    The main goal is the make sure the voter ID law is not in effect when all 140 General Assembly seats are up for re-election next year. That’s when having voters prove that they are who they say they are could actually make a difference.

  • Wally Erb

    What a reach! It would seem likely that those individuals affected by a down-sizing to meet budget requirements would receive ample notice prior to their discharge. Before one intimates that employee discharge will be in fact take place before the upcoming election, the evidence of employee termination notice and/or severance package would be produced to validate Mr. Schoeneman claims.

    • George

      Once one gets an impending layoff notice, one’s productivity goes down.

    • The email that was sent from the Commissioner of Elections indicated that “The reorganization resulted in three employees being laid off.”

      That’s a direct quote.

      If they haven’t been laid off yet, there’s no need for past tense. The email indicated that all of these changes have already taken place, and gave a list of 8 former staffers (some who’ve left voluntarily) whose positions have been reassigned.

  • Sovereign Mary

    Idiots never fail to disappoint and manipulate.

  • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

    Going all the way back to Chichester, I have complained about the Liberal Republican spending. Nothing but spending to finance the growth of government.

    I have probably sent over 100 e-mails to State Republicans, went to Republican town halls, probably over 100 phone calls to my Republican Reps about the massive budget increases of McDonnell, Howell, and Norment. I may as well been talking to a wall.

    You got it wrong this time Brian. What we have here is a Governor who is more of a fiscal conservative than Howell or Norment will ever be. He is in the process of “reeling” in the big spending, bigger government Liberal Republican’s.

    An what are the Republicans’s doing? Doing what any Liberal would do, raising hell about spending cuts.

    The Republican’s are bigger government, which requires more spending. The numbers do not lie. Neither does their largest tax increase in Virginia history, HB 2313. Did you think it could go on forever?

    Shame on you Brian!

    • This is the problem – the Republican Party has forgotten about the difference between good government spending and bad government spending. Big government is about scope not physical size or spending. There are fundamental, core government functions that needed to be funded appropriately so that the taxpayers get the services they expect and they pay taxes for. Things like public safety, education, elections, transportation – these are all core government functions that we expect to be handled properly.

      That means funding and appropriate staffing levels. It is ridiculous that the Virginia Department of Elections now has fewer full time staff members than my Office of Elections in Fairfax County. They administer the election laws and assist all of the local boards and registrars across the Commonwealth. They shouldn’t be forced to downsize and cut funding with an election three weeks away. That would be like cutting the military right before you invade somebody.

      I’m not raising hell about the cuts – I’m raising hell about where the cuts are being made from. Some other agency that doesn’t have a core function should have absorbed the cuts meant for ELECT.

      This isn’t a ideological issue or a partisan issue – it’s a good government issue. Don’t cut agencies with core missions before you cut the fat out of agencies that don’t have core missions.

      • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

        Ok, from 2010-14, the Republicans averaged about $ 4 Billion a year in spending increases. What did we get for it? That my friend is 4000 x 1,000,000 each year in spending growth. Why should government spending increase exponentially faster than inflation or the cost of living index increases? That is the reason why healthcare and education are now becoming unaffordable. Both had price increases that did not match the rest of the economy. That is why we have ObamaCare and student loan debt that is beyond comprehension. That is why we have tax increases.

        Anyway you look at it, a Democrat is now” reeling” in Republican spending. The Election Dept. Is a small piece of the cuts. Why did’t Howell and Norment cut the budget earlier this year? They locked McAuliffe out of the budget process.

        • If the spending increases aren’t the result of increased taxes – and they weren’t – what’s the issue? We have programs that need funding, and taxpayers want those programs (for the most part).

          I’ve written before on why scope of government is the real issue in big government, not physical size or spending levels.

          The Democrat here isn’t reeling in Republican spending. He’s balancing a budget as he’s constitutionally required to do in the only way he can, because tax increases aren’t going to happen.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            So you believe the scope of government can increase without increasing spending? Not sure I understand how that is possible.

            If as you say taxpayers want services increased, why not put tax increases on referendums?

            Yesterday I believe the Governor mentioned that the state has 120,000 employee’s? During a debate at U of R in 2009, McDonnell mentioned 105,000 employee’s. So, which is it?

            Did government grow by 15,000 during the McDonnell administration? Or, does the governor not know how many employee’s the state has?

            Did’t Bush 43 add 150,000 to the Federal government payroll?

          • If Congress passes a law that requires everybody to turn over all their financial information to the government daily, that doesn’t cost a dime, but it’s a major intrusion and increase in the scope of federal power.

            We do put some kinds of tax increases as referendums, but every election is a referendum on tax increases. If the General Assembly passes a tax increase, voters have a chance to send the folks who voted for it home, and they often do. We lost a handful of legislators last go around because of votes on the McDonnell transportation bill.

            Like I said, the number of employees isn’t a problem if they’re all focused on core governmental functions. If they’re not, then that’s where the problem is.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            In your first paragraph, how many extra people and computers would the government then need to process the daily massive influx of information? How many more buildings to house the extra staff? More roads and road maintenance so they can get to their new building, to process the new information. More people to enforce the new law? More judges to prosecute. More jails? The list is almost infinite regarding the growth of government in your example.

            Any budget increase no matter what it is for increases the size of government as your own example proves. The government will never quit spending or increasing spending because without spending, they have zero power.

            Don’t worry they will never do what needs to be done, it is to late to turn back.

            It would also be interesting to know how many, if any, state workers were laid off who made above $60k per year?

          • Doesn’t have to require a penny. That’s the point – scope is the issue, not physical size. You can increase scope without increasing size.

            The 3 layoffs resulted in a decrease in spending of $148k, so do the math. Why does it matter how much they were paid?

          • ContrarianView

            Nice questions, RR. With your command of the blithe lie technique and innuendo, you should be on the DNC payroll, if you aren’t already.

            Terry McCrony loves opportunities like this one, to bury an action to weaken election integrity under the disguise of an across-the-board budget responsibility measure. Only the sheeple are fooled.

            I must disagree with Brian’s response in this respect: Taxpayers don’t want increased government programs, but voters do. The problem is that too many people who don’t pay taxes, or whose income from government redistribution far exceeds the taxes they pay (net moochers and looters) have an equal vote with taxpayers.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            In my opinion, you should seek professional help.

    • Jim McGuire

      You’ll get no defense of Sen Chichester from me (which is why Mark Warner’s claim of ‘bipartisan’ tax reform with the VA sen carries little weight with me – it wasn’t necessarily ‘bi-ideological’.)
      But most R’s aren’t Chichester.
      Quick question RR – which of the two major parties in Virginia is more fiscally conservative?

      • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

        The Democrats are the more fiscal Conservative party in Virginia.

        Gov. Kaine left a proposed budget of about $75 Billion when he left office in 2010. The Republicans parlayed that into about $96 Billion in 4 short years during what amounts to a zero growth economy. An average spending increase by Virginia’s Liberal Republican controlled government of over $4 Billion per year. All designed to finance the growth of government.

        That coupled with the Liberal Republican’s largest tax increase on the middle-class in Virginia’s history, HB 2313 in 2013.

        If you go all the way back to when then Governor Warner signed a tax increase, ask what political Party sent him the tax increase to sign??????

        The numbers do not lie. Virginia has become a bastion of Liberal Republican lies and deceptions. It is they who take our money and who’s goal is the destruction of the middle-class.

        • Jim McGuire

          RR, I can sympathize with the idea that some R’s aren’t as fiscally conservative as they claim to be, but do you seriously think a Democratic governor with a Democratic legislature would have less taxing and spending? If so, you’re in a distinct minority.
          Kaine left the budget he did because his universal pre-K initiative and its accompanying costs were defeated and partially because the 2008 economic downtown lowered tax receipts. Have Sens Warner and Kaine pushed for more or less spending in DC? I can’t tell if you’re using the term Liberal Republican repeatedly in order to get people to vote Democrat or Libertarian (which usually just helps the Dems anyway). I appreciate however, your willingness to give a direct answer to a direct question. That’s refreshing; wish more politicians would do the same.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            I do not think I can change your mind about this. But you explained why Kaine left the budget that he did? Could you also explain why McDonnell, Howell, and Norment passed the budgets that they did?

            At a town hall in 2013, just after the Republican’s gave us HB 2313, my Rep. who is Republican, said the tax increase was twice the size required for transportation. That’s right, double what they needed.

            According to the info I have there has been little, or no upturn in the economy since 2010, which was the budget I was referring to. Kaine left a proposed budget of about $75 Billion when he left office in 2010. McDonnell, Howell, and Norment increased that to over $79 Billion.

            McDonnell, Norment, Howell raided VDOT, the VRS, the rainy day fund to support their thirst for bigger government which requires more spending.

        • That’s ridiculous. The party that’s pushing a medicaid expansion that will cost billions is the fiscally conservative party? No.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            You might have a point were it not that the Federal government would pick up 100% of the cost of Medicaid expansion for the first three years, and 90% thereafter.

            And before you say it, you have no prior examples nor proof that the Federal government will not pay. They pay billions of dollars each year in highway funds now don’t they? And if they do not pay the state just stops building roads. I can personally attest to that is how highway money works. So could MediCaid money.

            Is blocking Billions of dollars in Federal funding from coming into Virginia a Conservative principle? How many jobs is blocking MediCaid expansion costing us in Virginia? Which would the healthcare providers prefer? Which would some Republicans now prefer?

            Click on this link to see what Republican Senator Susan Collins is now saying about ObamaCare.

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/10/susan-collins-obamacare_n_5967106.html

            It is a clear choice. Healthcare costs were skyrocketing. Annual double digit increases in the cost of healthcare were many times the rate of inflation. The choice was between unaffordable healthcare/insurance and letting healthcare consume more and more of our paychecks, or ObamaCare. It was an easy choice and it still is. The Republicans have no answer for the rising cost of healthcare without Obamacare. None what so ever.

          • It’s not fiscally conservative to take money that will be borrowed at the federal level to expand government at the state level. That’s pretty much the textbook definition of fiscal irresponsibility.

            That’s the point.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            Where would Virginia be if they did not already take Federal money? Highways, healthcare, military, education. Virginia will accept as much Federal money as it can get is hands on. And they do not care if it is borrowed or not.

            Besides, I would disagree with you on borrowed. And you cannot prove me wrong because they cannot be audited. We are manipulating our currency, We are creating money. We borrow just enough to make if look legit. Our currency is not backed up anymore.

            There are few states if any that can survive without a handout from the Feds. Even the mighty Texas, where some no longer want to be part of the United States, could not handle a single case of Ebola?????

            Capitalism is dead and gone. Greed destroyed Capitalism, or Capitalism always was greed.

          • Of course I can prove you wrong. This has nothing to do with the Fed. The Obamacare money is mandatory spending, and we have an $800 billion+ budget deficit. Additional spending means we borrow more.

            Our currency hasn’t been “backed up” for over half a century. So what? That’s not the point.

            Borrowing even more money is not fiscally conservative nor is it fiscally responsible.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            First off, the deficit last year was $680 billion, if nothing changes this year it should be $492 billion, not 800 billion.

            If John Boehner had a Republican plan to control rising healthcare costs, he would have seen to it that it was passed in the U S House. What plan anyone else has in Congress makes little difference.

            Since the Republican controlled House has passed no healthcare plan, or voted on one, the only plan they have is to go back to the annual double digit increases. That my friend is unacceptable to me, and the majority of Americans. Ed Gillespie or anybody can talk about their plan, but the only one that counts in the House is Speaker Boehner. And most likely Mitch McConnell with control the Senate in January.

            But the Republicans cannot win statewide or nationwide election. With the long overdue involvement of the courts in cleaning up the gerrymandering, in a few years we will see what happens in the Congress.

            Next month, we will see if a Republican can win a statewide election. As you know, last year they went 0-3.

          • Sorry – a couple hundred billion or so off. It’s still borrowed money.

            I’m not arguing the merits of Medicaid expansion. I’m arguing with your ridiculous assertion that Democrats are the party of fiscal conservatism. When they’re pushing to spend even more borrowed federal money, that’s not fiscally conservative.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            What it seems that you have done is to change the focus of what I’m saying from the state of Virginia to the federal level.

            Regarding Federal money for MediCaid expansion. Now, another state will get our money, billions of dollars that Virginia could have had.

            I haven’t seen any Republican or Dem in the GA in Virginia complain about taking borrowed Federal money. Could you name anybody in the Virginia GA who does not want to accept borrowed federal money?

            My point is, the numbers point out that the Republicans in the Virginia GA are more fiscally Liberal these days that the Democrats. Name some recent spending by a Democrat GA member?

            Remember, your own article points out that it is a Democrat, Gov. McAuiffe, who is doing what fiscal conservatives want done. Slash and burn spending cuts!

  • mezurak

    Wow, three jobs, that should heavily impact the state unemployment rate. And right before an election. I bet they were all republicans too.

  • DJRippert

    McAuliffe is cutting the size of government and Republicans are complaining? Good for McAuliffe. Something tells me that the Virginia department of Elections will be able to conduct an election even after a huge, whopping, unsustainable 5% budget cut.

    Dear state employees: Welcome to the real world.

    • State employees have been in the real world for a while now, Don.

      • DJRippert

        Maybe it’s you who needs to see what’s going on. Unfortunately, a 5% across the board reduction in light of economic conditions is all too common in the private sector. Hardly a “slash and burn”.

        • No, Don, I don’t. This isn’t the private sector, and state government has been bearing the brunt of the recession for a while now. These folks are often treated like mules, they don’t even get cost of living increases often, and now with layoffs they’re losing the only thing that made state employment attractive – job security.

          A 5% across the board cut is a lazy, politically safe way to fix a deficit. We should expect smarter cuts that hit agencies that can better absorb them without impact on core government functions. Any kind of across the board cut is slash and burn.

          No private company acts this way.

          • DJRippert

            Please see the following graph. Unless I am reading this incorrectly the Commonwealth of Virginia has about the same number of full time employees per 1,000 residents as we had in 2003. This is true despite outsourcing contracts such as VITA and continual improvements in efficiency driven by technology.

            http://vaperforms.virginia.gov/indicators/govtcitizens/govOperations.php

            Let’s compare that to Dominion Resources.

            1. In 2003 Dominion Resources had $10.218B in revenue and 17,000 employees. In 2012 dominion Resources had $13.120B in revenues and 15,500 employees.

            2. Converting 2012 revenue into 2003 dollars reduces the 2012 revenues from $13.120B to $10.512B.

            3. In real terms Dominion’s revenues grew 3% from 2003 to 2012. However, their employee base shrunk by 9%.

            4. Real revenue per employee grew from $601,058 in 2003 to $678,193 in 2012.

            Tell me one more time how state employees have been bearing the brunt of this recession for a while now.

            It seems to me that the odds of remaining a state employee from 2003 – 2012 were quite a bit better than the odds of remaining an employee of Dominion Resources.

            McAuliffe announced the layoff of 565 state workers. That’s not 5% of the state workforce. That’s one half of one percent of the state workforce.

            You also seem to be forgetting the last governor’s election. Per the Washington Post:

            “The attorney general said he would not allow state government to grow faster than the rate of inflation plus population growth. This year, the state budget grew by 5.8 percent, while population and inflation growth was a combined 3.3 percent. Had Cuccinelli’s plan been in effect and budget growth been limited to 3.3 percent, the budget would have been $530 million smaller, he said.”

            Had Mr. Cuccinelli’s proposed limits been in place there would have been no reason to lay off anybody.

            Finally, the very idea that government has any idea which agencies are efficient and which are not is a flight of fantasy. i know, I know – you work with the Board of Elections so they are most obviously highly efficient. I wonder what the people who work with the other agencies would say.

            What cuts would you have made?

          • Don, you can see for yourself the trend line there. From a high in 2008, the number of employees per 1,000 residents at the state and local level deceased every year until 2012 when it ticked up slightly to the 2003 levels. That means that from 2008 through 2012, the number of employees dropped while population continued to increase and thus the demand for services increased.

            I can tell you how state employees have born the brunt of the recession – look at the level of pay increases these folks have gotten since 2008. That would be one – a whopping 2% base pay increase last year. They got two spot bonuses of 3% each, a good chunk of which was eaten up in taxes.

            How many raises did Dominion employees see?

            Even if Ken’s limits had been in place, there would still have been a $280+ million deficit, and that wasn’t going to get taken care of with tax increases. There would have had to be cuts.

            The very idea that folks outside government know which agencies are efficient and which are not is a similar flight of fantasy, so I guess nobody really knows.

            I would have cut the funding from non-core government functions – there were regional higher education centers, museums and other agencies that could have all taken slightly larger cuts to restore the funding for ELECT.

            You going to homecoming this weekend?

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            The problem with having over 100,000 state employee’s is that they vote. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that any politician running for statewide office would be wise not to piss them off. What better way to put a smile on their face in the voting booth than to give them a “gift”?

            I doubt any of the McAuliffe layoffs extended beyond the middle-class. I suggest that the likes of the over $300,000 professors, and $500,000 admins have nothing at all to worry about!! Except maybe where they are going to spend it all.

          • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

            I would like to see the math that you are using when you say that this years state budget only grew by 5.8%??? Rounded off, 2014 is $43.3, Billion, 2015 is $47.7 Billion. That is 10%?

            http://dpb.virginia.gov/budget/budget.cfm

  • Chad Parker

    Did I miss something? When did SBE become the Department of Elections? And why is ELECT the acronym of choice?

    Either way, it seems to me that the agency could use some trimming:

    http://datapoint.apa.virginia.gov/exp/exp_checkbook_voucher.cfm?ShowAll=Yes&FY=2014&AGY=81

    Upwards of 12M per year to assemble the information given to them by local registrars? And to provide guidance to registrars when asked? Seems like temp contractors governed by an unpaid board could do the same.

    And explain this to me. . .17k per pay period for IT staff salaries with numerous expenditures to VITA? The timing might have been better, but it seems that the agency cuts were long overdue.

    • In July. Last year the GA created a Department of Elections, headed by a Commissioner, that is separate from the State Board of Elections. State Board still certifies, but the Office isn’t headed up by the Secretary anymore – the Secretary is just another Board member. It’s a similar layout to the way things work at the local levels now.

      They don’t need cuts – they need increases. They aren’t merely assembling information. They handle campaign finance issues for the GA and statewide offices, they provide policy support and guidance to the localities, they handle training of EB members, they tasked with uniformity and they certify all of the elections. They run the centralized voter registration database (that needs a lot of work) and they backstop a lot of the localities that don’t have the resources we do in Fairfax. They are perrenially understaffed.

      The timing is both suspect and makes it difficult for them to do their jobs effectively. This is a core government function. We shouldn’t be treating it like its some fluff agency.

      • Chad Parker

        What was the GA’s intent of reconfiguring agency?

        Sounds to me like they need innovation. I’m curious to know how many campaign finance issues come up over the course of a year, especially a year without statewide office elections. Policy support and guidance to localities? Isn’t that something locality attorneys should be providing? raining of EB members–is this some extensive EB boot camp?

        Regarding uniformity and certification, I’ll concede that they have a busy 2nd quarter.

        I’m sure the database needs work. But that’s a project for VITA, not an understaffing issue.

        I agree, the timing is bad. They provide some core functions, but like any agency, there’s room for innovation and cuts.

        • The intent was to reconfigure the office so that it more resembled the Electoral Board/General Registrar make up in the localities, and to insulate the top position from politics by not making it an overtly political appointment, like the State Board of Elections slots are.

          The campaign finance filings happen regardless of whether there’s an election on the ballot statewide, and they coordinate filings for most offices. It’s a year round deal. No, locality attorneys can’t provide electoral guidance, as that’s not their responsibilities. Electoral Boards aren’t beholden to the localities on policy issues (just for their budgets), so they need formal guidance from Richmond. And Richmond also reimburses localities for some expenses. There is a yearly EB training provided by Richmond that’s mandatory for new members of the Board.

          And, no, not every agency has room for cuts. There’s always room for innovation, but in the elections arena, innovation usually means new technology and that takes money.

          It’s very easy to point and say “look, here are some things that can be cut!” when you aren’t familiar with the agency or it’s mission. That’s simply not accurate.

          This is the problem with meat-ax style cuts to agencies. They often do more harm than good, and result in greater costs down the road. These cuts were short sighted for very little impact on the deficit.

          • Chad Parker

            Given that no government agency operates at 100% efficiency, we can safely assume there’s always room for improvement. Absent technological innovation, which you rightly mentioned takes money, improvement comes through restructuring and other softer innovations. Reconfiguring the office, for example. Reassigning duties. Reevaluating travel. Reevaluating strategic plans. Admittedly, absent a JLARC report no one can readily identify all of the inefficiencies, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

            Cutting funding is like throwing your kid into a pool and hoping he’ll swim. Chances are he will, just like chances are ELECT will survive as well, learning a valuable skill in the process.

            Also, I’ve never been good at math, but 148K from 12M = a 1.2% cut, right?

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