Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday unveiled a new voter-registration initiative that managed not to rankle Republicans — quite a feat for a swing-state governor with a buddy on the ballot in a presidential election year. McAuliffe (D) said that Virginia’s motor vehicle offices, which have handled voter registrations since 1996, are making that paper-based process into an electronic one. The change will eliminate processing delays that can require the use of provisional ballots on Election Day, McAuliffe said at a news conference at a Richmond Department of Motor Vehicles office. It also will cut down on the use of staff time and paper at the DMV.
Each year, the DMV mails more than 500,000 completed paper voter registration applications to the Department of Elections, which in turn sorts and mails them out to local registrars around the state. Starting this month, that information will be transmitted from the DMV to elections officials with the touch of a button.
“This makes government more efficient, it saves our taxpayers money, and it makes our democracy more accessible,” McAuliffe said. McAuliffe has incensed GOP foes with other voting-related changes — from a tweak to registration forms that would make questions about citizenship and criminal history optional, to a sweeping order to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 felons.
In those cases, Republicans accused McAuliffe of trying to boost turnout this fall for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, his longtime friend and political ally.