Obama Jumps Into Virginia’s High-Stakes Elections With Robocalls

All 140 legislative seats are up for grabs. Abortion rights are also on the ballot.

President Barack Obama waves as he returns to the the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012

Susan Walsh/ AP

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Live in a key battleground district in Virginia? Then look out for a call from Barack Obama—or at least his pre-recorded voice. Politico reports the former president has taped two robocalls reminding voters to head to the polls ahead of the state’s critical legislative elections next week.

“The people we elect in the state Senate and House of Delegates will make decisions that affect your everyday life,” Obama reportedly says in one call, “Now is the time to make our voices heard.”

The former president’s involvement, which will come as a much-needed boost to the state’s Democratic candidates, underscores the major stakes at play in Virginia’s elections, where all 140 legislative seats are up for grabs. Critical issues, including abortion and voting rights, are also on the ballot. My colleague Ari Berman recently looked into the fight for control of state government: 

Divided government has prevented Youngkin, who won a surprise victory in 2021 by emphasizing culture war issues like attacking Critical Race Theory, from enacting a sweeping conservative agenda. But if Republicans capture the legislature and take full control of state government for the first time since 2013, they will be able to put in place harsh limits on ballot access and other measures to limit democracy, following the blueprint adopted by Republicans in other states.

While Obama reportedly does not mention any of the issues on Virginians’ ballots in his calls, it’s still notable that he’s dipping his toe into this state election, especially one that’s been mired with chaos during the voting process. As I wrote earlier this week, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration recently admitted to wrongfully removing more than 3,000 Virginians from the state’s voter rolls. The state’s Department of Elections claims to have restored rights to those mistakenly removed. But voting rights advocates report that the damage has already been done.

“It’s a chilling effect on voting,” Joan Porte, president of the League of Women Voters of Virginia, told Mother Jones. “It’s a disenfranchisement that should never have been even considered. And it’s just another sad piece of Virginia’s already terrible history.” 

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