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Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Secures Victory Extending Virginia Voter Registration Deadline Until Midnight Friday

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From Progress VA:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Secures Victory Extending Virginia Voter Registration Deadline Until Midnight Friday

Extension allows qualified Virginia voters additional time to register for November 8th election

Alexandria, VA – This morning, a federal district court ordered state election officials in Virginia to extend Virginia’s voter registration deadline until midnight Friday. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the suit, New Virginia Majority Education Fund v. Department of Elections, Tuesday evening in the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of New Virginia Majority Education Fund, the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, and Michael and Kathy Kern of Charlottesville. The lawsuit was filed because eligible Virginians were denied their right to vote when they were unable to register by the October 17th deadline because the online voter registration portal malfunctioned during the final days of voter registration, and was largely unavailable during the final hours before the voter registration deadline. Under the order, eligible Virginia voters have until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 21st to submit their voter registration application. Per the order, the defendants will provide additional information to the public regarding their opportunity to register to participate in the November 8th election.

Virginia residents will be able to submit voter registration forms on-line, in person or have them postmarked by no later than October 21st, 2016, to ensure that they are able to vote in the November general election. Voters who have questions about their registration status are urged to call the nonpartisan Election Protection hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE for English language assistance, 888-VE-Y-VOTA for Spanish language assistance, and 888-API-VOTE for assistance in several Asian languages.

 

Statement of Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority Education Fund:

“We’re pleased with today’s order to extend Virginia’s voter registration deadline to ensure every eligible Virginian who wants to register to vote is able. The right to vote is at the heart of what it means to be an American. For thousands of Virginians who recently had their right to vote restored, this order means they will have a voice in November, many for the first time. That’s something we can all be proud of.”

 

Statement of Julie Emery, executive director of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table:

“Today’s order means dedicated Virginians who were unable to register on Monday through no fault of their own will have a voice in this election. No one should be denied the right to participate in our democracy because of an underfunded election administration system.”

 

Statement of Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:

“This is a victory for people across the state of Virginia for people who seek to register and vote this election cycle. Extending the voter registration deadline though the end of the day on Friday was essential to help ensure that eligible voters had a fair opportunity to participate in the election this November.”

Statement of John Freedman, partner at Arnold & Porter:

“Both parties recognized that this extension was necessary and appropriate to protect eligible Virginians’ right to vote. We are pleased that the court  extended the voter registration deadline when circumstances unfairly prevented qualified individuals from registering to vote.”

 

  • Governor McAuliffe Statement on Ruling Extending Voting Registration

    RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement today after a federal judge ordered that Virginia’s voter registration process be extended until 11:59 PM on Friday, October 21, 2016:

    “I am pleased that the court has agreed with the request to extend Virginia’s voter registration period after unprecedented web traffic prevented many people from completing their registrations online before the original deadline. The Commonwealth will fully comply with the court’s order and extend our registration process online, in-person and through the mail.

    “The Virginia Department of Elections and the Virginia Information Technology Agency have been working overtime since Monday night to expand the capacity of the system that allows Virginians to register to vote online, and I am confident that the steps we have taken will provide an improved experience to people who use it.

    “However, I do want to urge Virginians who are interested in registering to vote to act as quickly as possible and, if they are able, to take advantage of all of the available ways to register to vote during this period, including visiting a local registrar’s office or a Department of Motor Vehicles office.

    “Additionally, in the event that there are unexpected technology issues, we urge Virginians to contact the Department of Elections and indicate that they are attempting to register, so that staff can follow up and ensure that they make it through the process.

    “The right to vote is one of the most sacred tenets of our democracy and we should do everything we can to make it accessible to as many people as possible. I am pleased that we are able to offer the individuals who were unable to register another opportunity to make their voices heard and we are working hard to ensure that this process, as well as the remainder of this election cycle, is smooth and easy for everyone who participates.”

  • Speaking of Election Day, I agree 100% with Del. Paul Krizek (D) on this one:

    This year on Election Day, the first question you will see on the ballot is a proposed constitutional amendment that would prohibit a worker’s participation in a union as a condition for employment in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    In Virginia, non-union employees have the right to come to work and be represented by unions without having to be a member. This practice has been in the Code of Virginia since 1947 and is commonly called “right to work.” While it is called “right to work,” the name is very misleading as it has the opposite effect on workers. It provides employers an increased opportunity to deny workers access to a union or professional organization, yet allows some workers to benefit from the work of a union or organization without being a member. Some workers benefit from the union, like a firefighter’s or teacher’s association, but without contributing to it as the members do. This is “free riding.”

    While, I voted against changing our Constitution with this amendment in the 2016 General Assembly session, it passed and the Governor does not have the power to veto it.

    The Constitution of Virginia, one of the first state Constitutions, historically was a source of inspiration for federal and state styles of government. Our Virginia Constitution outlines a House and Senate to create the legislature (The General Assembly) and the role and election of the Governor, for example. It is our governing document which sets down the rules by which all our laws should be established. The Code of Virginia is where laws belong, not in the Constitution.

    Constitutional amendments originate in the General Assembly, and if they pass, the amendment must be considered again in the session following the election of new members and passed once more. If it passes a second time, the amendment is presented to the voters on Election Day. Virginia created this style of government to make the legislature more powerful than the Governor and for this reason the Governor cannot veto a proposed constitutional amendment and the voter’s decision becomes final law. That is why the Governor could not stop this proposed misleading amendment from moving forward.

    This law has existed for 80 years, and does not need to be enshrined in the Constitution of Virginia. The current law is unfair and unhelpful and has lead to the widening gap of pay and benefits within the labor force. Those states that do not have such a law have much higher wages and less of a pay gap.

    Let’s not mess with our Constitution. I oppose this amendment, intend to vote against it, and I hope you will as well.

  • From Virginia House Dem Leader David Toscano:

    DEMOCRATIC HOUSE LEADERS PROPOSE NEW LAW TO EXTEND VOTER REGISTRATION

    House Democratic Leader, David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville/Albemarle), today announced that a proposed change in state law to address emergencies that prevent citizens attempting to register from doing so in time of emergency. The proposed law would allow the State Board of Elections to extend the registration period for seven days in the event of an emergency.

    “Recent events surrounding the hurricane in Florida and the problems with the Virginia online registration website suggest a need for some additional flexibility in extending the deadline for registration in advance of an election,” said Toscano. “Few people deny that citizens who seek to legally register and vote should be permitted to do so. Without a change in state law, the only option in cases of emergency is to file a lawsuit and seek court intervention. That is both inefficient and potentially denies the rights of citizens to exercise the franchise.”

    In Florida, the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew made it impossible for some citizens to register within the time period set by state law. Since that state’s law did not permit the extension of the registration period, a lawsuit was filed, which led to the registration period being extended. Last week, hundreds of Virginians attempted to register in Virginia by the deadline, but were prevented from doing so because the registration website either slowed to a point that the registrations were not received by the deadline. A federal court judge, in response to a lawsuit, extended the time period for registration until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 21, 2016.

    “I know that a number of my colleagues have attempted to blame the Board of Elections for the recent problems in Virginia,” said Mark Sickles (D-Franconia), who is working with Toscano on the legislation. “As leaders and legislators, however, we are in a position to address this problem, both by appropriating the funds to improve our system and by changing the law to make it more flexible. This proposal attempts to do the latter; in the next session, we will also work on the former.”

    State law closes registration 21 days in advance of election with no exceptions.