Sen. Mark Obenshain’s Voter Registration by Political Party Bill (SB 1060): Intent Matters

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    ( – promoted by lowkell)

    If government has done nothing wrong, then it has nothing to fear from the exposure of its practices. The same applies to politicians.

    The Virginia Senate must regret allowing debates to be recorded. Video recording, and especially making it possible to disseminate those recordings (hello, Facebook, who knew it would ever be useful for anything except ogling cats and bragging about your grandkids?) makes it harder to lie and get away with it

    No wonder the General Assembly is afraid.

    This particular bill (SB 1060), sponsored by Republican Mark Obenshain, is designed to restrict primary voting to the party faithful. Even the conservative Virginia blogosphere admits this, and in the case of The Virginia Conservative actively opposes it.

    If you watch and listen to the Obenshain defense in the first half of the posting about it you would be forgiven for imagining (briefly) that it was all about voting integrity.  It is not.

    Republican “voting integrity” is always about restricting the vote to the party faithful, not be gaining more faithful, perhaps by promoting policies that benefit all citizens of the Commonwealth, but by disenfranchising everyone else.

    State Senator Chap Peterson called him out on it. When caught, Obenshain tried to lie his way out of it, to the effect that he knew what the bill would do and a snide aside that this wasn’t his “first time at the rodeo.”

    Indeed, it is not.  But first, a little background.

    Some years ago, when I still lived in Annandale, I used to vote for Republicans, when they fielded  the better candidate.  Virginia Democrats in those days still harbored racists and religious bigots, and the Republicans, less so. Virginia is an open primary state, which means anyone can vote in a regular primary, as long as you do not  vote in the primary of the other party.

    Even so, Republicans really didn’t like people voting.  Virginia does not require you to declare a party when you register to vote. I certainly never have.  So they had what they referred to as a firehouse primary. I put in a considerable effort to drive myself to the firehouse primary, months before the general election, only to be informed that I had to sign a legal piece of paper promising to vote for whoever was actually nominated, and that I could be sued if I didn’t.

    I was so taken aback by this that I failed to ask the most important question.

    “How would you ever find out who I voted for?” I will circle back to that question.  

    The second candidate was not unacceptable,  and I couldn’t make that promise. That would have been a lie. I’m not a liar. So after having stood in line for considerable  amount of time, and having wasted an even greater amount of my valuable time getting there, I turned around and came home.

    When the general election came up, I voted for the Democrat. I had to hold my nose but the person as I recall was a considerably better choice than the one actually nominated by the teeny tiny minority of Republicans who were allowed in.

    Intent matters. The fact that this bill is been sponsored and is currently being pushed by Republican Mark Obenshain tells you everything you really need to know about intent. It also ties in with my question about how representatives of a political party would know exactly how I’ve voted it a regular election.

    Apparently, I would be expected to report to the state police, and self-report. This is not the Virginia GOP’s first experiment with self-incrimination.  

    I imagine the satraps of the Virginia Republican Party have forgotten that part of the Constitution under which a citizen of the United States cannot be forced to incriminate himself.  For reference it’s in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

    Obenshain, in case you have forgotten, is the state senator who ran for attorney general.  His ultimate goal in his previous flight into the unConstitutional air of self-incriminating was to criminalize not being pregnant.  

    I suppose he imagined that no one would remember during his run for attorney general in 2013 that in 2009 he proposed a fetal death bill which would essentially criminalize miscarriages, by intrusively requiring women who had miscarried (or had legal, drug induced abortions at home)  without medical attendance, as most early miscarriages are, to self-report it to the state police  within 24 hours to explain themselves, and to bring the expelled fetus with them as evidence.

    Twenty four hours after a miscarriage, blood is still running down your leg. In all likelihood, the fetus has been flushed.  The prospect of being legally required to participate in this activity is literally ghastly and intrusive beyond belief.

    When caught out and challenged  in both 2009 and again in 2013, Obenshain whined that this was not his intent.

    When Chap Petersen caught him out on SB 1060, he whined that this was not his intent.

    Actual intent matters.  Obenshain can’t bring himself to even tell the truth, even when it is about the fact that he is lying.    

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    • Enki

      If Republicans want to make voters ‘register’ by political party, then control who votes in their primaries, then let the Republicans PAY FOR THE ELECTIONS, as they are no longer free and open to the taxpayers who pay for them.  

      Party registration in Virginia has been the “bad penny” that keeps coming back, year after year.  Its a bad idea that only benefits the political parties.  

      They want controlled elections, they can pay for them!