RICHMOND — Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that he will push back the state’s municipal elections from May 5 to May 19, after the legislature rejected his plan to postpone them until November.
Northam said the two-week delay was the limit of his powers under the Virginia Constitution, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is expected to continue into June.
“I strongly encourage you to vote absentee by mail. For people who do come out, we will make it as safe as possible,” Northam said.
The state, he said, will provide additional polling place volunteers through the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, and will roll out additional safety measures.
The state also will provide “an adequate supply” of personal protective equipment for poll workers, Northam said.
On Wednesday, lawmakers in the Virginia Senate rejected a proposal by Northam to delay the May 5 elections to Nov. 3 and extend the terms of any elected officials involved.
Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, encouraged lawmakers not to “make decisions based on hysteria” and urged holding a special session to consider different legislative approaches.
In the House, lawmakers narrowly approved the plan to delay the elections.
“I am greatly disappointed in the Senate for failing to take this action to protect our fellow Virginians,” Northam said.
In the greater Charlottesville area, the towns of Scottsville, Louisa and Orange are set to hold May elections.