Sixth District Southern Region Vice Chair Steve Richards and I were asked to assist the Teller committee at the Fifth Congressional District “Unassembled Convention” held Saturday, June 13. Steve was asked because of his organizing skills and his reputation for honesty and integrity. I was asked because I chaired the balloting committee at the 2018 Sixth District convention and have for several years served as a Chief Election Officer in Lynchburg.
The difference is that instead of the one precinct I deal with in Lynchburg, we were dealing with what amounted to 23 precincts, that is the 23 units in the Fifth District. As a result, it took a long time to tabulate the end results. I learned later that a number of Twitter and Facebook posts questioned whether the “delay” in getting the results out was an indication of vote manipulation in the tally room. Actually, it was a sign of thoroughness and accuracy.
Because of the contention surrounding this election, the dozen of us in the Teller room (not counting at least ten observers) were very careful to document every ballot and match the number of voted ballots with the number of delegates checked-in by each unit. The tally process was more complicated than merely scanning the ballots. There were a few minor discrepancies – normal in any large election process – that we chose to sort out (identify, explain, document) before we would report the totals from a unit to the spreadsheet operators. (There were two identical spreadsheets, each on a separate computer, with the output of each computer projected on a wall so that all of the observers could see/compare the results – raw votes and weighted results – as entered into each computer.) We decided it was better to get an accurate number than a quick number. Even though it took much longer than any of us would have liked, the final vote count came from a clean, fair, open, and accurate tally process.
The Fifth District convention is done, but another contentious convention — the Sixth District convention – comes on July 11. (I’m running for reelection to the State Central Committee.) We approved the call for this convention in December because convention preparation takes a long time. But the time we provided was squandered. A month or so ago, since no committees had been announced, the Sixth District Committee instructed current Chair Jennifer Brown and current Vice-Chair John Massoud – the two candidates for District Chair – to each select two members of each temporary convention committee and to select committee chairs on whom they could both agree. (Temporary committees are appointed because the committees don’t become permanent until voted on by the convention delegates.) We instructed them to complete the process by May 26. When the committees had still not been selected by May 28 (due to disagreement about one specific committee), we called a District Committee meeting for June 15 (to allow for the required 14-day notice) to appoint committees if the two candidates could not reach agreement by then. Finally, less than an hour before the District Committee was to meet, the convention committees were announced. Chairman Brown sent out her privately funded newsletter that evening with a few wrong names on it. I have included the correct, official list below:
The Temporary Convention Arrangements Committee includes Patsy Walker and Dexter Gaines (selected by Brown) and Steve Arrington and Dave Goetze (selected by Massoud). Jane Burner (Brown) is the committee chair.
The Temporary Convention Rules Committee includes Bethany Harrison (Brown), Scott Seaton (Brown), Vance Wilkins (Massoud), and Jeff Adams (Massoud). Dan Webb (Brown) is the chair.
The Temporary Convention Elections Committee includes Jeff Roadcap (Brown), Anne Seaton (Brown), Gary Chatelain (Massoud), and April McWilliams (Massoud). The chair is Austin Armentrout (Brown).
The Temporary Convention Nominations Committee includes James H. Kostelni (Brown), Scott Cline (Brown), Dave Christovich (Massoud), and Kyle Ford (Massoud). Doug Smith (Brown) is chair.
The Temporary Convention Credentials Committee includes Craig Storrs, Jr. (Brown), Eric Harrison (Brown), Jim DeLong (Massoud), and Brandi Rutz (Massoud). Nate Boyer (Massoud) is the chair.
Virginia House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert will be Temporary Convention Chair. Some people have posted that he came because Jennifer Brown asked him to. That is not true. It took a concerted effort and specific invitations from both candidates before he would agree to serve. If both candidates agreed to it, then his nomination as convention chair would not become a point of contention at a convention that already promises to be quite… lively.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, Ph.D.