Voter identification laws are a hot issue in Virginia and across the country. Republicans say such laws combat voter fraud, which they insist is widespread. Democrats say the laws discourage voting by minority and elderly citizens who may be less likely to have a photo ID. The debate has played out in Virginia, where Republicans control the General Assembly and a Democrat is governor, with few signs of a compromise. In 2013, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1256, which required Virginia voters to present a driver’s license, passport or other photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The bill — which was signed into law by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican — also provided free photo IDs to citizens who needed one.
Articles about voting issues in Virginia.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would require registrars to deny applications by people who leave out certain details, such as whether they are 18 years old. McAuliffe also vetoed the House version of legislation to extend coal tax credits, terming the credits ineffective. House Bill 298, sponsored by Del. Terry G. Kilgore, R-Scott, was identical to Senate Bill 44, which McAuliffe vetoed March 11, the last day of the General Assembly session. Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, sponsored House Bill 9, which sought to specify in greater detail information applicants are required to provide on the voter registration form.
Virginia: Complaints over potentially illegal political ads in limbo as Virginia elections agency stops issuing guidance | Richmond Times-Dispatch
As they prepared to take up roughly a dozen old complaints of illegal political mail or signs, members of the Virginia State Board of Elections complained Monday that they were flying blind because the state agency they oversee stopped offering guidance on whether the ads in question did or didn’t violate the law. The lack of staff analysis and recommendations, coupled with lengthy delays between when complaints come in and when they come up for review, left one board member openly wondering whether the state is doing enough to police political campaigns. Board members also raised concern about receiving limited details about the cases — many dating back to the November election and some over a year old — on Friday afternoon for a Monday morning meeting.
Virginia: Charlie Crist applauds Terry McAuliffe for beating his record on restoring voting rights | Florida Politics
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he had broken the record for restoring voting rights to convicted felons, calling it his “proudest achievement” as governor. And Charlie Crist is leading the cheers applauding the move. McAuliffe boasted Thursday he had individually restored rights to 156,221 Virginians, surpassing the previous record-holder — Crist — by a nose. As governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, Crist restored voting rights to 155,315 felons, according to figures that McAuliffe’s office obtained from Florida.
Virginia: McAuliffe says he has broken U.S. record for restoring voting rights | The Washington Post
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday that he had broken the record for restoring voting rights to convicted felons, calling it his “proudest achievement” as governor. McAuliffe (D) said he had individually restored rights to 156,221 Virginians, surpassing the previous record-holder by a nose. As governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, Charlie Crist restored voting rights to 155,315 felons, according to figures that McAuliffe’s office obtained from Florida. Today Crist, who has evolved from Republican to Independent to Democrat, is a freshman member of Congress. His spokeswoman, Erin Moffet, said Crist would not mind seeing his record fall. “I know my boss would congratulate Governor McAuliffe on the work he’s doing in his state, as well,” she said.
Virginia: Attorney general declines to issue opinion on voting machine security in Botetourt | Roanoke Times
The state attorney general’s office has declined to issue a legal opinion on whether it’s a conflict for a Botetourt County elected official to share office space with the voting machines to be used in the next election. The county’s electoral board sought the opinion last month, after questioning whether it should continue to store the machines in the same Fincastle building where Commonwealth’s Attorney Joel Branscom recently relocated his office. Although no one suggested that Branscom or his staff would tamper with — or even touch — the machines, election officials said they were concerned about the appearances of the new arrangement.
Virginia: Richmond judge upholds 11 legislative districts challenged in gerrymandering lawsuit | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A Richmond judge issued a ruling Friday upholding the constitutionality of 11 state legislative districts that were challenged as being designed for political purposes. The ruling by Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant is a setback for redistricting reform advocates in Virginia. The lawsuit was backed by the reform group OneVirginia2021. The decision will likely be appealed. Marchant heard evidence during a three-day bench trial in March relating to five state House districts and six state Senate districts drawn by the Virginia General Assembly in 2011.
Three pieces of legislation involving voting have been vetoed. Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the vetoes on Monday, saying all three would have created barriers to voting instead of improving the integrity of the system. The first bill was Senate Bill 1253, which would have required electronic pollbooks to contain photographs of registered voters that comes from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles or from the creation of voter photo ID cards. It would also have not required the voter to present a statutorily required form of ID. McAuliffe wrote the bill required the state to make costly changes to the existing voter registration database that would not improve the integrity of the election. He also said no funding was provided by the legislation for localities to get and maintain the equipment necessary or for the state to prepare for implementing this requirement.
Virginia: Botetourt election officials raise concerns about security of voting machines | Roanoke Times
The board that oversees elections in Botetourt County is raising questions about a building where voting machines are stored next to the offices of an elected official. At a meeting this week, the county’s electoral board voted 3-0 to seek an opinion from Virginia’s attorney general on “whether it violates voting systems security” to keep the machines in close proximity to offices occupied by Commonwealth’s Attorney Joel Branscom and his staff. “The Board’s concerns are obvious,” it wrote in a letter asking for legal advice from Attorney General Mark Herring.
Virginia: Richmond’s mayoral dropouts inspire change to Virginia election law | Richmond Times-Dispatch
The hectic final days of Richmond’s 2016 mayoral race, complicated by multiple last-minute candidate dropouts, have inspired Virginia lawmakers to inject a small dose of order into the electoral process. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed legislation this month that lays out a formal procedure for how local election officials handle candidates withdrawing from an election after it’s too late to have their names removed from the ballot. Three of the eight candidates who qualified for the mayoral ballot pulled out of the race after the ballots had been printed. “That was unprecedented,” said Richmond Registrar J. Kirk Showalter. “But then we’ve never had quite as many candidates for mayor either.”