Richmond’s mayoral dropouts inspire change to Virginia election law

The 2016 Richmond mayoral race was one for the books. A total of eight candidates debated throughout the year — all of which remained on the ballot in November — but three withdrew from the race.

Illustration by Shannon Wright

Additionally, not all of the candidates who withdrew submitted their official paperwork to properly notify the local registrars and Tyler, Junes and Baliles received 2,334 of the total votes according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Last week, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill into law which would prevent the latter scenario from reoccurring in future elections.

“This bill will help provide the most accurate and up-to-date information to voters of our Commonwealth,” said Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), who sponsored the bill, when speaking to the floor of the House earlier this General Assembly session.

HB 1933 sets guidelines for the Department of Elections regarding candidates withdrawing from a race by stating candidates may only withdraw by a signed, written notice sent to the general registrar.

In the event a candidate withdraws from the race but remains on the ballot, polling places must post a list of the withdrawn candidates to notify voters.

The bill passed both chambers easily with little debate and the rules will take effect in July.

During Richmond’s mayoral race, the three candidates who ultimately withdrew — Bruce Tyler, Bobby Junes, and Jon Baliles — dropped out of the race in its final weeks after the ballots had been printed.


marylee clark. photo by sarah kingMary Lee Clark
Mary Lee is a senior studying journalism. She currently interns for RVAmag and, in addition to writing for the CT. She previously worked as a makeup artist at Darkwood Manor, did lighting design at Trackside Theater (where she is now on the Board of Directors) and photographed for the Page News and Courier.
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