Gov. Bob McDonnell has installed Florida’s former elections chief as the new secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections and made two other appointments that give Republicans a majority on the three-member board.
McDonnell today appointed Donald Palmer to a four-year term as the board’s secretary, putting him in charge of agency’s day-to-day operations. Palmer will succeed outgoing secretary Nancy Rodrigues, an appointee of former Gov. Tim Kaine, whose term expires Monday.
Palmer, who now lives in Williamsburg, is the former director of elections for the Florida Department of State, where he oversaw the 2008 presidential election and 2010 midterm elections. He’s also a former Justice Department lawyer who helped enforce federal voting laws and advised state election officials on civil rights compliance.
McDonnell also tapped Republican Charles Judd and Democrat Kimberly Bowers, both Richmond-areas residents, to fill the other two seats on the board.
Rodrigues’ last day is Monday, when the state board will take up a complaint against Montgomery County’s electoral board over irregularities that occurred in the Nov. 2 elections. Stay tuned for more on that.
Here’s the news release from the governor’s office announcing today’s appointments:
RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell today announced an additional appointment to his administration in the Administration secretariat. In addition, he announced appointments to two Virginia boards and commissions.
A bio for today’s appointments can be found below. Further announcements regarding additional appointments in the McDonnell Administration will continue to be made in the months ahead.
Donald Palmer, Secretary, State Board of Elections
Donald Palmer most recently served as the Director of Elections with the Florida Department of State, working with the Florida Secretary of State and 67 Supervisors of Elections in successful 2008 Primary and General Presidential Elections and the 2010 mid-term elections. During his tenure, he improved statewide processes of statewide registration verification and list maintenance and he successfully implemented changes to align Florida with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
The Division of Elections consists of the Bureau of Election Records involved with the qualifying of candidates and receipt of campaign finance reports; the Bureau of Voting Systems Certification responsible for the testing and certification of voting systems entering the State of Florida; and the Bureau of Voter Registration Services implementing the federal statewide list maintenance mandates of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
Donald Palmer represented Florida as a member of the EAC Standards Board of the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and was elected to the Standards Executive Board by his peers. He was also appointed by the EAC to the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) to represent elections officials on the Standards Board. These advisory boards provide recommendations to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) on voluntary standards for voting equipment, voting systems, and voter registration databases.
Prior to his tenure in Florida, he served as a trial attorney with the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, where he enforced the federal voting laws and provided guidance to states on compliance with the civil rights laws. In that role, he brought suits against jurisdictions for violations of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). He also monitored compliance with the Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
In May 2009, Donald Palmer provided testimony to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on the proposed Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act eventually signed by President Obama, specifically highlighting Florida’s leading role in overcoming the obstacles military and overseas voters face in registration and voting.
Donald Palmer is a reserve Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) where he served in Naples, Italy, representing Sailors and Marines accused of military offenses. He also served the Navy as an appellate counsel representing the Navy in the appeals of convictions of serious crimes. Earlier in his career, he served as an Intelligence Officer with the now retired Sea Strike Squadron Twenty-Two of S-3bs and Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3) onboard “Big John”, the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CV-67).
He still serves in the Navy Reserves in Jacksonville, Florida. He is married and the father of three children.
Board of Optometry
- Carole Stadfield of Reston, Associate Broker with Long & Foster Real Estate
State Board of Elections
- Charles E. Judd of Chesterfield, Marketing and Communications Consultant
- Kimberly T. Bowers of Richmond, Major Gift Officer-Law for the University of Richmond