by Ken Boddye
Yesterday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed yet another piece of bad legislation proposed by Republicans. Although most of the bad bills usually come out of the House of Delegates (the lower state house), this particular one was a State Senate Bill (where the GOP still maintains a 1-seat majority.)
Senate Bill 1303 would have reduced online voter registration hours on the final day of voter registration before every election in the state. Currently, registrants have until 11:59 PM to register online on the final day of registration; the bill would have brought that deadline all the way back to 5:00 PM.
As you might imagine, this was an attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise folks who may not have realized when the deadline was, and had work on that final day of registration.
And who would usually have such a busy life that this would affect? Democratic-leaning voters.
This was yet another attempt in a long line of attacks against voting rights in Virginia. Over the past few years, Virginia Republicans have tried to: introduce tighter Voter ID laws, limit and close voting locations, and force new registrants to provide proof of citizenship. My Republican opponent — Rich Anderson — has been a poster child for this effort.
What’s worse, we already lag behind most states when it comes to accessibility of the ballot box.
- If someone wants to vote early (absentee) in Virginia, you need one of a dozen different reasons to qualify to do so.
- If you vote by mail, you have to provide a stamp yourself if you want to mail it back.
- Good luck if you’re a college student. Most universities in the state don’t have their own polling place, and you can’t vote at the nearest one to campus if you’re still registered back at home.
- If your last name has been changed (such as if you’ve gotten married,) you have to get a new drivers license/ID unless you want to run the risk of being given a provisional ballot.
- If you’re an ex-convict, you likely can’t get your rights restored unless the Governor does something about it. Even if you lived in a state where ex-convicts got their rights restored automatically and then you moved back to Virginia. Yes, you can lose your right to vote simply by moving to Virginia if you’re an ex-convict.
If you’re a woman and/or a person of color, chances are you know how much those who came before us fought, bled, cried and died to secure our right to vote, and yet the Virginia GOP wants to roll back everything our forebears fought for.
At a time when much of the Voting Rights Act has been gutted by the courts, and many state legislatures have fallen into the hands of Republicans, we have to fight like never before to regain our lost ground, and restore access to the ballot box. That starts with making sure we take back the Virginia House of Delegates this year.
I’m running for the 51st District of the House of Delegates this year, which is one of the districts held by a Republican but carried by Hillary Clinton in November.
If elected, I would fight for a 21st Century Voting Rights Act here in Virginia which would:
- Create no-reason-necessary absentee voting.
- Automatically register teenagers who will be 18 by election day.
- Allow for Same-day registration.
- Make mail-in absentee ballots pre-paid postage.
- Expand the types of identification accepted for registration and verification on election day.
- Allow additional options for college students, including bringing more voting locations onto college campuses.
- Allow for a process of restoration of rights for ex-felons,including automatic restoration at the completion of sentences and parole on certain lesser crimes.
Higher turnout means a more representative government, and a stronger Democracy. If the Republicans can’t win when more folks vote, then they need to get better ideas. It’s as simple as that.
If you’re interested in the rest of my platform and candidacy, my website is here.
My donation page can be found here.