Virginia's GOP leader told voters polls were about to close — a day early


Virginia state Sen. Tommy Norment told his constituents Tuesday's election was over before it started.

On Tuesday, Virginia voters will select all 100 members of the state's House of Delegates and all 40 members of the state Senate. But an email sent out on Monday by the commonwealth's Senate majority leader told constituents that the polls closed — 11 hours before they actually opened.

The email, sent out by Republican state Sen. Tommy Norment of James City County, was sent out Monday at 5:02 p.m. "Dear Neighbor," it read. "Polls close in 2 hours! The inclement weather has led to many people staying home. This is a critical election that will impact the Commonwealth." The progressive blog Blue Virginia posted a screenshot.

The actual election hours are on Tuesday, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Norment's campaign told the Washington Post that the email was supposed to be sent out at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, but that they made an error. The campaign said that the email went to Republican voters, proving that the intent was not nefarious. "Why would we want to suppress our own voters?" a spokesperson asked rhetorically.

Norment has come under fire in recent months for his role as editor of a Virginia Military Academy yearbook that contained racist photos and racial slurs, and for making racist comments while teaching a college course at William & Mary. In the past, Norment has admitted to having an extramarital relationship with a lobbyist and to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Norment is expected to win reelection on Tuesday in a solidly Republican district against an underfunded challenger. But with just a one-seat GOP majority, Democrats are optimistic that he will not hold the title of majority leader come January.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.