Protecting Voting Rights in Manassas Park, VA: Democrats Taking Action

Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem (D-13th) is a lifelong resident of Manassas in Prince William County and is the Democratic candidate for the 30th district. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats passed bills to expand absentee voting to anyone who wishes to vote early or by mail, not just those with an acceptable excuse. This change has had a huge impact on elections in Virginia, with nearly 60 percent of voters casting their ballots by mail last year. Legislators also approved ballot boxes, prepaid postage for ballot return envelopes, and a formalized process that allows voters to correct errors related to the documentation of absentee voters. These purged voter lists are organized by numbered electoral districts and, in the case of Manassas, these numbers reflect the new boundaries of the electoral districts (starting in 201), not the boundaries of the electoral districts of previous years.

Some members of the more progressive wing of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives unsuccessfully lobbied their colleagues to go further, criticizing the Clean Economy Act for not moving fast enough and blaming house leaders for blocking consideration of a Virginia version of the Green New Deal in favor of an approach they consider too deferential to power companies. Delegate Roem is the first woman, first person of color, and only the second Democrat to hold this seat in Virginia's history. For the past two years, Democrats have been divided over electric utility reform, with many members of the House of Representatives joining a group of Republicans in that chamber to push for a series of changes to the state code that would return much of the authority of Virginia's public utility regulators, the State Corporation Commission, to regulate rates and revenues. Manassas and Manassas Park will come together in a new 20th House of Delegates district, a new 30th senatorial district in Virginia and a reconfigured 10th congressional district. Before obtaining a majority, Democrats made it clear that they wanted to pass stricter laws to prevent potentially dangerous people from accessing firearms and to allow firearms to be banned in more public places. Danica Roem, a Democrat from Manassas Park and Virginia's first openly transgender elected official now in her second term, was one of the main sponsors on a few bills that elected members from sexual or gender minority communities. Now, in their second full session with full legislative control, Virginia Democrats are continuing to reverse old Republican Party initiatives and enact new laws that take into account the growing diversity of the state's citizenship. Terry McAuliffe, a prolific Democratic fund-raiser, said his father taught him that “money in politics isn't bad or good.” Democrats have also lobbied for gun bans in places such as government buildings, parks, and at events such as rallies and political protests. As if all this were not enough, Northam has already called on both houses to extend the short 30-day session to equalize it with a normal 46-day session, an initiative that Republicans managed to block when Democratic leaders tried to prolong it with a vote early in the session.

Tom Bonier, Democratic strategist and senior advisor to TargetSmart, a Democratic survey and data company, also suppressed initial enthusiasm. In the Democrat-led legislature, several attempts to curb Virginia's extensive electoral campaign funding system - limiting contribution amounts or limiting corporate donations - have failed despite being popular among progressives. After leaving federal service, Paul became an active volunteer for the Manassas Park Cities Democratic Committee &. Lamont Bagby, a Democrat from Henrico, talks about the “soul in the polls” campaign which has resulted in increased participation in and outside black communities.

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