Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill Friday that he said would require local election officials to investigate Virginia voters without a clear standard for how and when such investigations should be undertaken. The bill itself, available here, said that, if passed, it would have required local electoral boards to investigate the list of registered voters when the number of registered voters in a county or city exceeds the population of people old enough to vote. Once the investigation was concluded, the bill would have required the local electoral board to make a report of the findings to the State Board of Elections, which then would make it public.
Articles about voting issues in Virginia.
The Virginia Senate recently voted 21-19 to pass a bill to tighten photo requirements for registered voters. The bill, SB 1253, was introduced by Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, and now will head to the House Privileges and Elections Committee. The bill grants localities the option to include photographs of registered voters in their electronic poll books. The localities can get access to voter photographs through the DMV or photo identification cards. The department of election will receive and have access to registered voters photographs and by required upon request to provide them to general registrars.
Virginia: Appeals court dismisses case seeking party ID in local elections | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A federal appeals court has dismissed a challenge to a Virginia law prohibiting partisan labels on ballots in local elections. In an opinion published Tuesday, the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the case brought by a group of Powhatan County Republicans and found the state has a legitimate interest in minimizing political partisanship in local races. “While party identifiers do not appear on the official ballot for Virginia’s local candidates, the candidates still have every other avenue by which to inform voters of this information,” Judge Paul Niemeyer wrote in the three-judge panel’s unanimous opinion affirming a lower court’s earlier ruling. “Political parties and their nominees are entirely free to publicize their association with each other.”
Virginia: House Republicans stop Sen. Norment’s felon voting rights proposal | Richmond Times-Dispatch
A House of Delegates committee on Friday stopped a proposal from Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, that would have given legislators authority over deciding which felons receive the right to vote again, while reducing the governor’s power. The proposed constitutional amendment — Senate Joint Resolution 223 — passed the Republican-controlled Senate 21-19 earlier this month after bitter, partisan debate. In the House Privileges and Elections Committee on Friday, a motion to advance the proposal did not receive a second, and it is expected to die in the committee as this year’s General Assembly session heads into its final week.
Virginia: Voter registration records have loopholes but no evidence of widespread fraud | Virginian-Pilot
Can someone who isn’t an American citizen illegally register and vote in Virginia’s elections? Yes. Can a felon whose rights haven’t been restored vote undetected in Virginia? Yes. Can someone be registered to vote in Virginia and another state and illegally cast ballots in both places? Yes. State and local election officials acknowledge all those crimes can happen in the Old Dominion because the state’s voter rolls aren’t airtight. Even with those gaps, the same officials and a prominent election expert argue there’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud. They reject President Donald Trump’s often-repeated but unverified claim that millions of noncitizens illegally voted against him in November. “If you want to find thousands or even millions of people who committed voter fraud, good luck with that, because there’s no way that’s true,” said David Becker, lead author of a 2012 Pew Center on The States study of the nation’s voter registration systems. Court records back him up where Virginia’s concerned.
Virginia: After complaints about Virginia voter registration, cuts for election software upgrades | Daily Press
Over the course of a five-and-a-half hour hearing in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, Republican legislators lamented problems with the state’s electronic voter registration system. Days later, right at the deadline to register to vote, that system crashed. Funding to upgrade the system was cut Thursday in the Senate by some of the same legislators who keyed in on the issue last fall. State Sen. Jill Vogel co-chaired that October meeting, and she also heads the budget subcommittee that removed nearly $4 million in new funding Gov. Terry McAuliffe had proposed for the Virginia Department of Elections. She said on the Senate floor Thursday that some of that money will likely come back into the budget as the House and Senate negotiate a final spending bill.
Virginia: Caustic debate unfolds in Senate as GOP moves to slow down felon voting restoration | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an executive order in April restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 felons who had served their sentences.
The Democrat’s move took the Virginia executive’s power to restore civil rights further than any previous governor and led to a court challenge and eventually legislation. That legislation generated a bitter, partisan debate in the Senate on Tuesday over McAuliffe’s actions and Virginia’s history of hindering African-Americans from voting. In the end, the Senate voted 21-19, along party lines, to pass Senate Joint Resolution 223 from Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City. The debate came just as legislators reached crossover, the functional midpoint of this year’s 46-day session. In contrast to McAuliffe’s policy of liberally restoring rights, the Norment proposal would set criteria to curtail such power for any future governor.
Virginia: Three bills arise from Lynchburg ballot shortage; registrars to retain choice when ordering ballots | The News & Advance
Local registrars will retain autonomy to order the number of ballots they choose for each election after legislators cut language from twin bills arising from the Lynchburg special election ballot shortage. The pair proposed by Sen. Steve Newman, R-Bedford County, and Del. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg, are two of three pieces of legislation arising from the Jan. 10 special election in which several Hill City precincts ran out of pre-printed ballots in the morning. The resulting confusion led to angry and confused voters, some of whom left without casting a ballot.
Virginia: House passes bill to require proof of citizenship to vote in state, local elections | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Legislation to require proof of U.S. citizenship before registering to vote in Virginia elections passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates Wednesday on a 64-33 vote along party lines. Echoing President Donald Trump’s claim, made without evidence, that millions of people in the country illegally have made it onto the voter rolls, the GOP-sponsored bill would apply to state and local elections because citizenship tests are not allowed in federal elections. Citizenship could be proved with a birth certificate, passport, naturalization document or other record accepted under federal law. Anyone registered to vote as of Jan. 1, 2018, would not have to prove their citizenship.
Democratic delegates Tuesday called on Republican House Speaker William Howell to revive legislation that supporters say would help take politics out of redistricting. The Democrats tried to put pressure on Howell a day after a Republican-dominated subcommittee voted to kill five redistricting proposals in one swoop with little discussion. At its meeting Monday morning, the Constitutional Subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections Committee ignored a request from a Democratic member to vote on the proposed constitutional amendments individually. The panel then tabled the redistricting measures on a single 4–3 vote. Republican Dels. Randy Minchew of Leesburg, Mark Cole of Spotsylvania, Tim Hugo of Centreville and Jackson Miller of Manassas all voted to table the resolutions. Opposing the motion were Republican Del. Jason Miyares of Virginia Beach and Democratic Dels. Joseph Lindsey of Norfolk and Marcia Price of Newport News.