Scottsville prepares for major election during coronavirus pandemic

Scottsville prepares for major election during coronavirus pandemic
The town of Scottsville is set to hold elections for a new mayor, and all new members of its town council, on May 19. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - In Virginia’s capitol this week, all eyes were on elections. Not the “big one,” in November, but the ones happening in towns and cities across the state in May.

In Scottsville, the position of mayor and every seat on the town council is up for grabs. The townspeople will go to the polls on May 19, two weeks after the planned election day of May 5.

Governor Ralph Northam announced the two week delay on April 24 due to health concerns over the virus, after initially seeking a delay to November. That proposal was approved by the Virginia House of Delegates, but shot down by the State Senate, during the reconvene session on April 22.

In the town, leaders are applauding the election not being pushed to the fall. Mayor Nancy Gill said town leaders fear that a fall election would not only interrupt town business already impacted by the virus, but also potentially introduce partisanship the town tries to avoid.

“The minute you can move an election to November, and it’s mixed in with state and federal elections, partisanship has the potential of creeping in," Gill said. "That’s one thing that we do not really want.”

To keep the voters safe, Albemarle County election officials are encouraging as many Scottsville residents to vote absentee. Still, if people intend to vote in person, the county registrar says they are getting creative. Polls will be socially distanced, sneeze guards will be installed, and other options are also being explored.

“We’re gonna give them the option to vote curbside in their automobiles," Albemarle County General Registrar Jake Washburn said. "So they wouldn’t have to get up and come up the stairs to the voting room that we usually use.”

Because of the two week delay, the deadline for absentee ballot registration has also been extended. Scottsville residents will have util May 12 to apply.

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