I thought perhaps
vim was in some compatibility mode of some sort. To make sure it was using
vim instead of
vi, I set the
VISUAL environment variable but was still unable to get into visual mode (hitting the v key).
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visudo ignores the
EDITOR variable for security reasons and calls
vi, so the compatibility mode of
vim is enabled.
Read How to set visudo to use a different editor than the default on Fedora? to change the default editor.