The legislation (SB 686), includes a emergency clause to make the act effective immediately upon signature if the governor.
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee passed the bill with the emergency clause in recognition of the rapidly approaching March 1st primary date and the fact that several thousand absentee ballots already cast in the 2016 Virginia Republican presidential primary.
It is unclear how many absentee ballots were returned with a signed loyalty oath.
“Now we need to make sure the bill passes the House and gets to the Governor’s desk in order to ensure that all Virginians will have their ballot counted on March 1st,” Petersen said.
“This bill in no way limits the rights of political parties to nominate candidates. They can still use a restricted caucus or mass meeting, where they can require a partisan pledge, a fitness test or a trial by combat. I really don’t care. But if they’re going to use state resources, they must keep the polls open to all interested voters. They cannot use a state agency to enforce a partisan test.”