Gov. Ralph Northam is cleaning house at the State Board of Elections, naming three new commissioners—including a former Republican legislator from the Richmond suburbs swept out in the 2017 anti-Trump wave.
In a written statement Friday afternoon, Northam said he was appointing Bob Brink, an aide in former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration and former Democratic member of the House of Delegates from Arlington County; lawyer Jamilah D. LeCruise of Norfolk; and former Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico.
O’Bannon, who served in the House from 2001 to 2018 and was defeated in 2017 by Democrat Debra Rodman, was a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. O’Bannon, like Northam, is a physician.
The board oversees statewide elections, tabulates results and implements election policies set by the General Assembly and governor. That includes voter ID requirements, equipment and training election officers.
The board—its membership would expand from three to five under a measure sent by the legislature to Northam last month—also supervises an elections commissioner picked by the governor.
State law requires that two of the three members are affiliated with the governor’s political party. The third member is selected from the party that is out of power. Members serve four-year terms and must be approved by the General Assembly.
Brink, who served in the House from 1998 to 2014, is Northam’s pick for chairman, said press secretary Alena Yarmosky. He was a senior legislative adviser to McAuliffe after serving in the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
LeCruise is the board’s second Democratic member. O’Bannon is the Republican representative.
The previous board members—McAuliffe-era appointees—were replaced, though they were eligible for second terms, Yarmosky said. The replaced members were Chairman James Alcorn, Singleton B. McAllister and Clara Belle Wheeler.
In January 2018, the board had to decide by drawing lots a tied election for a House seat in Newport News. The drawing—required by state law—tipped the seat to the incumbent, Republican David Yancey, preserving the chamber’s GOP edge.
Also last year, the board voted to seek the ouster of two members of the Hopewell Electoral Board after a spate of election controversies. The members were suspended by a Hopewell circuit court judge in October and, last week, were formally removed.