Happenings on the Homefront: The Post-Election Voting Concerns Debrief

December 2, 2020


Dear Friend,


With special session coming to a close a few weeks ago, the Virginia Senate has had a period of down time with not much to report legislatively. We are beginning the process of working with staff lawyers to draft bills to be presented during our next regular session which will start January 13, 2021, and last 30 days this year. Since we are considered “part time legislators” in the state of Virginia, our regular session work is limited by our state constitution and defined in length as lasting 30 days for non-budget years (60 days every other year for budget). In 2021, Senators will be limited to introducing 12 bills each while delegates in the House will be limited to introducing 7 bills each (These limits were set by the members of the Rules Committee from both chambers, the 2020 session had no bill limit). Stay tuned for a pre-session update in the weeks to come outlining my priorities going into the next session (Spoiler Alert: nursing home staffing, veterans advocacy, and yes- the balloon bill will be back!). 

I wanted to take a few minutes to address the concerns of so many of you who have reached out to me about the integrity of our elections held on November 3rd, 2020. First, please know that I hear each and every one of you who has called my office & spoken to one of my staff, who has emailed my district office, or who has commented on a social media post. I agree with you 100% that it is right to question the electoral process and to hold those accountable who are responsible for ensuring our elections are conducted fairly with the utmost integrity. The night of my own election last November, 2019, I personally saw and experienced precinct reporting that I questioned and still doubt. I paid for and worked with lawyers for days after my own election to ensure the absentee and provisional ballots were properly counted. I watched Delegate Chris Stolle lose his seat in the 83rd precinct by 27 votes and did not feel confident that I trusted those results. 

Since my election, I have made it very clear to the Virginia Beach Department of Elections staff that I want to be involved in the local electoral process and that I have been and will be watching closely how we conduct each and every election going forward. I was on the phone consulting with Donna Patterson, Virginia Beach Director of Elections/ General Registrar, the day of the 2020 June Republican Primary when the voting machines experienced a malfunction which many of you may remember. I wrote a letter from my office addressing my concerns in writing after that day, including the fact that my husband and I had to cast a provisional ballot in that election due to a machine malfunction. 

In preparation for this November’s election, I scheduled an appointment to meet with Ms. Patterson and her staff in person in October and went to the Department of Elections’ office at the Virginia Beach Courthouse complex for a tour. I saw the room where the absentee ballots are processed and spoke with Ms. Patterson about the extreme changes in election law that had been passed during our 2020 regular session. The day of the election, I worked at seven different polls throughout the day. I watched the election results play out the night of the election, including the after midnight reporting of all the early and absentee ballots in one large grouping, and saw the leads flip for many contentious races in the blink of an eye. I scheduled another phone conference with Ms. Patterson the following week and relayed many personal concerns and constituents’ concerns to her one at a time. These included people receiving absentee ballots who did not request them, college students never receiving their absentee ballots, people’s voting record being improperly listed on the Dept of Elections website, and numerous other concerns that had been relayed to my office. I am in the process of relaying these concerns in writing to Mr. Christopher Piper, the Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner. 

Above all else, the most important action I have taken to prevent voter fraud and to maintain the integrity for ALL of our elections was to vote NO to each and every suspicious election reform bill that came before me on the floor of the Senate this past year. This included voting NO to the bill ending the requirement to show voter ID, NO to the bill to end no excuse absentee voting, and NO to the special session bill one month prior to our November election allowing for ballot drop boxes and opening the door to ballot harvesting (and included a $2 million price tag). 

The majority of these 2020 election reform bills passed along party lines votes with the Democratic legislators having a majority of votes in both chambers therefore having the ability to pass any and all election reform legislation they could imagine. I have said time and time again and will say once more….. it is dangerous to have one party that controls all parts of government in our Commonwealth including the Governor, Lt Governor, Attorney General, Senate, and House of Delegates. Elections have consequences, and I knew this before I got on a ballot and worked hard to win my seat. I encourage each and every one of my colleagues in the Senate and House to be as involved and proactive as I have been and will continue to be to stay on top of our electoral process in Virginia Beach and Norfolk and to continue to be vigilant, to fight for free and fair elections, and to ensure every legal vote is counted. I encourage all candidates who lost races to work with their legal teams to exhaust their ability to recount, audit, and investigate their resultsto the full extent of their ability as I did in my race in 2019. It is a team effort and we all must continue to do our part until we can reform our electoral process and restore voter confidence in our elections. You can be assured, I will continue to watch closely for each and every election and to do my part for as long as I hold elected office in the state of Virginia. 

Very Respectfully,

Jen


Click Here to Visit the Virginia Department of Elections Voter Complaint Site

*Virginia Beach Electoral Board holds periodic meetings open to the public. Their next meeting will be on December 17th at 1 p.m.at Building 14 of the Virginia Beach Courthouse Complex. You are encouraged to attend to have your questions and concerns heard.


*Additionally, the City of Virginia Beach is always looking for election officials to work polls on election day. See here for more information and to apply: https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/voter-registrar/Pages/election-official-information.aspx



Virginia Peninsula Foodbank Volunteer Event


This week, I joined other community leaders in volunteering at the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank in Hampton to raise awareness of the role our foodbanks play in addressing food insecurity in our area. In addition to providing meals to families and school children in need, they also offer a culinary training program to adults to teach skills needed to work in the food service industry. Thank you for all you do!



Local Mental Health Resource Visits

Recently, I had a tour of the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center to understand how they are serving the mental health needs of our community during COVID. After that, I visited Hampton Roads Hyperbaric Therapy to learn how hyperbaric oxygen therapy is helping our veterans with PTSD & brain injuries. In my primary care job I see an increased need for available and accessible mental health services now more than ever. We must continue to work to expand these local resources for Virginia Beach and Norfolk.



Girl Scout Zoom Meeting

I was honored to talk to Girl Scout Troop #552 (via Zoom) about Navy helicopters, nursing, & the Senate of Virginia! They were great listeners and asked lots of great questions! (& I hope we inspired a few future girl pilots and girl politicians out there….!) Thank you for inviting me!



Tree Planting Event


It was a great day to turn off the TV, go outside, & plant some trees! Thank you to Lynnhaven River Now for organizing the opportunity to plant almost 400 trees in common areas in the Ocean Lakes neighborhood and distribute 100 trees to residents. Ocean Lakes is in the Back Bay watershed and, like many low-lying neighborhoods, is vulnerable to flooding. Planting these trees will help reduce local flooding! #GoOutside #PlantTrees#EnjoyTheSun (Special thank you to my daughter for coming with and helping me!! )



Sen. Kiggans Honors Family Military History on Veterans Day

“A veteran is someone who at one point in their life wrote a blank check payable to America for the amount up to and including their life.” 

A special shout out to my Grandfather, Dad, Husband, & Son for their service!



DMV Issues??

DMV now offers most current credential holders who are required to renew in person the option to use online service and obtain a new two-year driver’s license or ID card. This will suspend the requirement for those customers to visit a DMV customer service center until it is time for their next renewal. If you would like to renew your license for its full five or eight years (length of license validity varies by customer), or if you need a REAL ID compliant driver’s license, you must still make an appointment.

Having trouble getting an appointment at the DMV, please call our office for assistance and we can help! 757-990-3080

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If you are overwhelmed or need help finding specific answers to questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. The email is: district07@senate.virginia.gov and our phone number is: 757-990-3080. As always, it continues to be an honor to serve and represent you all as the State Senator from the 7th district. Stay safe and well out there!