Virginia Beach Light-Rail Petition Controversy

Tue, May 10 2016 by Lillie Cobain

Virginia Beach officials won’t tell a group of citizens whether or not they have enough voter signatures to place the city’s proposed light rail project on the ballot for an up-or-down vote. The group, No Light Rail in Virginia Beach, turned in 26,236 signatures, more than enough to reach the requirement of 25 percent of the vote in the “prior” election.

Yet, in a letter, the city’s general registrar announced, “I hereby certify that the number of valid signatures reviewed by this office as of the date of this submission exceeds 25% of the number of votes cast in the 2015 Election but does not exceed 25% of the number of votes cast in the 2014 Election.”

The city claims to be unsure which prior election should be used to determine the signature requirement, and has decided to leave it up to the courts. The light rail petition was first filed with the city in October 2015, but the signatures weren’t turned in until March of this year.

“We turned in everything to the courts and they can determine whether it’s enough signatures,” General Registrar Donna Patterson told the media.

They seem to be simply making it up as they go along,” said Steve Miyares, the attorney for No Light Rail in Virginia Beach. He added, “But this whole thing stinks of back-room deals and hidden agendas. I think there is desperation to stop us from getting the issue on the ballot, regardless of how strictly we follow the law.”

The Virginian-Pilot: Virginia Beach light rail petition drive falls 500 signatures short for now, but organizers dispute numbers.