Lynn Taylor, president of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, describes in this episode of “Who’s Counting?” how thousands of Virginians, who saw disturbing irregularities in Virginia’s 2020 presidential election, decided to take firm action to restore the public trust in the state’s elections. Numerous grassroots organizations came together to form the Virginia Fair Elections Coalition, a statewide election integrity network that helped create local election integrity task forces in Virginia’s largest counties. These task forces became citizen watchdogs over the election offices, the General Registrars, and the local electoral boards. They also trained and equipped enough election officials and poll watchers to fill 85 percent of the 14,000 available citizen oversight slots in Virginia’s 2021 statewide and state House elections.
The Virginia Institute’s election integrity infrastructure program — now known as “The Virginia Model” — is a successful plan that can be implemented in any state with an adaptation of that state’s specific election laws and protocols.
Lynn walks through the formation of the task forces with Cleta, from poll watcher training, protecting low-income and senior voters, understanding voting machines, and verifying absentee ballots. She relates important coalition experiences, one of which led to the Virginia Institute’s filing suit against the Fairfax County election officer who refused to follow state statutes for verifying the identity of individuals requesting absentee ballots.
Calling for organizations to “check their logos and egos at the door” to protect election integrity, and training volunteers to be “right and polite” in all circumstances, Lynn’s spearheading of this effort proved it is possible to return trust in the system to voters when engaging the citizen observers in roles that are not just allowed by law, but demanded by it.
Click here to download a PDF copy of the Virginia Fair Elections Model Guide, or email the Virginia Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this important pamphlet. And don’t forget to download the Citizens Guide to Election Integrity Infrastructure Citizens-Guide.pdf (whoscounting.us) so you can start a local task force in your county or community.