Judge denies Virginia Beach’s request to hold special election for council under now illegal voting system


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The city of Virginia Beach will not be able to request a special election to fill the vacant city council seat after a federal judge said it was not “in the public interest in holding a special election using an invalid system.

The order issued Monday by Federal Judge Raymond Jackson means that while Virginia Beach City Council can move forward with their Kempsville District Representative Appointment Process, there is currently no way for voters to choose who they want to occupy the seat.

Under state law, the board can appoint a person to fill a board seat within 45 days of it becoming vacant. Former Councilor Jessica Abbott resigned on July 2 for health reasons.

However, state law requires that the seat ultimately be filled by a special election. Virginia law requires that a special election be held on the date of the next general election in November.

At present, the city has no way of electing city council members after Jackson decided in March that the city’s old system – in which anyone can vote for all members of the Virginia Beach city council and school board, regardless of the district in which they live – violates the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965

As the judge finally institutes a new system while Virginia Beach appeals the decision, it will probably not be in place by November.

The city council therefore asked if the old system could be used one last time due to unforeseen circumstances.

They argued to the judge that not filling the seat “would ‘inflict irreparable harm on the city and the public” mainly because it would hamper the city’s application of the governing state’s law, create a council without a vote. decisive … “

“The Court is not persuaded that the Council cannot deal with the affairs of the people with only ten elected,” Jackson said in his order.

City Councilor John Moss posted on Facebook that the city is not giving up yet.

“The city attorney on behalf of the Council, on direction from the Council, will file an appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Moss said. “The saga continues. “

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