State Board of Elections members mulling a redesign of voter registration forms got an earful Tuesday from conservatives who feel the changes would make it easier for non-citizens to vote, and from registrars who voiced a longer list of concerns. The biggest controversy stems from a proposal for checkboxes on the current form, where registrants state whether they’re citizens, whether they have a felony record and whether they’ve been judged mentally incapacitated. Instead of requiring people to check those boxes, the new form would make them optional. It would also beef up the form’s “affirmation” – the statement just above where people sign – to include explicit mentions of all three requirements.
Proponents said it’s all about making the form easier to understand. Currently, registrars reach out to people who don’t check the boxes, asking them to fill the form out again and complete the boxes. If people don’t do that, they’re not registered to vote. Those opposed to the change lined the walls of a large meeting room Tuesday for a standing-room-only public hearing. Many said Gov. Terry McAuliffe is pushing a more calculated agenda through his appointed elections board.
Stan Corn, a Goochland County resident and the first to address the board Tuesday on the matter, said the edited form represents McAuliffe’s first step “for eradicating our electoral system as we know it.”
Those who followed gave a less dire analysis, but except for representatives from a few left-leaning advocacy groups, they were against the change. A number of registrars who process these forms called for the checkboxes to remain mandatory. Several ticked off a list of other problems with the new form, down to the proposed font.