|RICHMOND (July 1, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued the below statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee upholding two restrictive voting laws in Arizona that disproportionately affect minority voters:
“It is ironic and sad that on the very day that Virginia’s historic Voting Rights Act goes into effect, the Supreme Court upholds two restrictive and discriminatory voting laws in Arizona,” said Attorney General Herring. “For more than six decades, the Supreme Court could be counted on as a reliable partner in protecting Americans’ fundamental voting rights, but not anymore. It is so important that the Commonwealth now has its own Voting Rights Act in place to protect Virginians’ fundamental right to vote and prevent any kind of discriminatory conduct.
“For too long, the Commonwealth has been on the wrong side of history – enacting incredibly restrictive voting rights aimed at preventing Black Virginians and Virginians of color from exercising their right to vote. I am committed to enforcing the new Voting Rights Act and ensuring that every eligible Virginian who wants to vote is able to without any impediments.”
During this year’s legislative session, the General Assembly passed Virginia’s Voting Rights Act that enhances and strengthens voter protections in the Commonwealth. Attorney General Herring and his team worked closely with the two sponsors of the legislation Delegate Marcia Price (HB1890) and Senator Jennifer McClellan (SB1395), as well as voting rights advocates, to include a provision in the legislation making the Office of the Attorney General a main enforcer of the Virginia Voting Rights Act.
Protecting Virginians’ voting rights has been a top priority for Attorney General Herring during his time in office. During the COVID pandemic, Attorney General Herring has worked hard to ensure that all Virginians could vote safely and easily, regardless of how they chose to vote, and protect voters from illegal harassment or intimidation at the polls.
Because of all the work that Attorney General Herring and his team did in preparation for Election Day 2020, including making it clear that absolutely no voter intimidation would be tolerated in Virginia and preparing and planning for any and all outcomes or potential legal challenges, the Commonwealth saw a remarkably smooth and uneventful Election day. In addition to the OAG attorneys who normally represent the Board of Elections and the Department of Elections, Attorney General Herring assembled a multidisciplinary team of attorneys from his Civil Litigation and Public Safety Divisions, Solicitor General’s Office, and other divisions across the OAG, who were on standby, ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice should the need have arisen. The OAG also had lawyers in every corner of the Commonwealth who were prepared to go into court to handle any potential legal challenges.
Virginia also saw historic turnout during last year’s election, especially in early and absentee voting. This increase in voter participation was really possible in part because of Attorney General Herring’s work to make voting as easy and safe as possible during this unprecedented election cycle by crafting agreements to waive the witness signature on absentee ballots, making it easier for disabled Virginians to vote safely at home, extending the voter registration deadline, and blocking the drastic operational changes at the USPS.
Last year’s election cycle brought numerous challenges that prompted Attorney General Herring and his team to develop solutions and put out guidance to make sure every Virginian had a safe, comfortable, easy voting experience, whether they chose to vote early absentee, early in person, or on Election Day.
Attorney General Herring and his team negotiated options to promote safe, secure voting for Virginians who could not or did not want to risk their health to vote in person including:
- An agreement that waived the witness requirement for absentee ballots for Virginians who feared for their safety voting in person
- An agreement that made it easier for Virginians with disabilities to participate in the election safely at home
Attorney General Herring also successfully blocked the Trump Administration’s drastic operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service, when a federal judge granted his motion for preliminary injunction, explicitly saying in his order that, “at the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement.”
Additionally, Attorney General Herring put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that Virginians felt comfortable and protected at polling places across the Commonwealth by: