Virginia GOP expects to hear appeals over rejected delegate applications on convention day

Capitol Connection
A look at the Republican nominating convention in Virginia

A look at the Republican nominating convention in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The Virginia GOP will continue to hear appeals from residents who were not selected as delegates for the May 8 convention, despite a passed deadline, because the party has not been able to notify all those who have been rejected. 

Members of the committee in charge of the delegate credential process shared the challenges they’ve faced when trying to connect with some prospective voters about having their application denied, including having to rely on the Postal Service to reach residents who only had to provide their name and address on forms.

The Republican State Central Committee, the state party’s governing body, met Saturday to vote on the credential committee’s report, finalizing details on the nominating process a week before the “unassembled” convention. 

Dr. Clara Belle Wheeler, the chairwoman of the credential committee, informed state Republican leaders in the meeting that appeal hearings would continue up until and even on convention day for those still seeking to be a delegate due to the communication issues. The deadline to bring forward a challenge to credential committee had been April 28 at 5 p.m.

“Think of these appeals in much the way you would think as a provisional ballot on a regular election,” Wheeler said. “People come to the polling place having not have the ability to know that they are not certified because the certification list was sent not to the general public in order protect the confidentiality of those who wished to vote.”

Republicans hoping to be selected as a convention delegate can be denied for a variety of reasons, including a. record of voting for a Democrat recently or an error on a form. Wheeler told members there were 53,650 certified delegates on the poll book for May 8 and 729 applicants who were denied by their local party unit.

The certification list was shared with unit chairs, the credential committee and campaigns, according to Wheeler, with the credential committee getting the list of the people who had their applications rejected. She added that while some have been told, not all units implemented the same measures to connect with voters.

“Again, this puts some voters at a disadvantage in not knowing that their application has been denied. Some units did send rejection notices. Some units did have receipts with electronic transmission of applications,” Wheeler told the Republican SCC. “That was not a uniformly held process and so there will be people who show up on election day thinking that they have put in an application and that they are prepared to vote. That will not be the case because their names may not be on the poll book.” 

The Virginia GOP voted to accept a proposal to have members of the credential committee be on-site or available for the certification appeal hearings on May 8. The state party also agreed to expand the committee to increase the number of people capable of assisting in making a final ruling.

After months of bitter infighting and accusations being hurled around, the Republican SCC settled on the language of the amendment without much debate. Members then adopted the credential committee’s report without objection before adjourning.

Certified delegates will converge at 39 different locations across the state on May 8 to submit their ballots for statewide candidates. Using a ranked-choice voting system, delegates will pick nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

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