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Results tagged “Voting”

August 6, 2014

Decision two weeks prior to election creates confusion and makes it harder for eligible Virginians to vote

Richmond, VA - Voting rights advocates today strongly criticized a State Board of Elections' (SBE) move to change the rules defining a valid voter ID as a decision that will confuse and make it harder for some Virginians to vote. In the absence of Vice Chair Bowers, Chairman Judd and Secretary Palmer voted to revise previously adopted regulations governing valid IDs. The new language, introduced for the first time today, eliminates as valid for voting purposes any ID that has expired more than 12 months before Election Day.

Previously, the date of expiration was not a factor in determining the validity of the ID. In fact, the photo voter ID being issued under direction of the SBE does not itself include an expiration date.

"The Board's decision today makes it that much more difficult for voters to participate in our democracy," said Tram Nguyen, co-director of Virginia New Majority. "Our elections should be free, fair, and accessible. Needlessly restricting the forms of voting ID only makes it more difficult. Approximately 300,000 Virginia voters lack a DMV-issued ID. I am particularly concerned about the four upcoming special elections on August 19th, one of which will be subject to these new requirements. This last minute decision, just 13 days before the special election will only create more voter confusion for Virginians who may need to obtain a new ID in order to exercise their constitutionally-protected rights."

Anne Sterling, President the League of Women Voters of Virginia, also criticized the decision. "Since many forms of acceptable ID under the new photo ID law don't have an expiration date, it makes no sense to rule out some of the most common forms of ID simply because they're expired," said Sterling. "Changing the rules again this close to the election means voters and election officials will face new confusion over who can vote."

"Today's decision is extremely troubling. The Board has ignored the warning issued this week by the Attorney General's office and the hundreds of concerns voiced by the public," said Courtney Mills, Staff Attorney with the Fair Elections Legal Network. "Virginia voters deserve to be held to the same uniform standards to ensure equal access to voting. Unfortunately, this decision ensures that they will not."

This November, Virginia voters will be required to present a photo ID in order to vote, the third ID standard voters will face in three years. Voting rights advocates are focused on educating the public about the new requirement to ensure every eligible voter has what they need to vote. Acceptable forms of ID for voting include:

  • A Virginia driver's license or other photo ID issued by Virginia
  • A United States passport
  • Any photo ID issued by the United States government
  • A student ID that has a photograph and was issued by any institution of higher learning in Virginia
  • An employee identification card that has a photograph

Any voter lacking one of the above forms of ID can obtain a free voter Photo ID from any local registrar's office. For more information on the new ID requirement and how to obtain a free ID, Virginians can visit www.GotIDVirginia.orgor call the election protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

###

ProgressVA, Virginia New Majority, Project Vote, Fair Elections Legal Network, League of Women Voters of Virginia

For more information please contact:

Tram Nguyen, Virginia New Majority, 703-589-0925

Brian Devine, ProgressVA (434) 218-2113

July 30, 2014

Voting rights advocates today thanked the Department of Elections and Commissioner Edgardo Cortes for their quick action to address mistaken information distributed to voters regarding their registration. News reports Wednesday revealed the Department of Elections erroneously mailed approximately 125,000 Virginia voters notifications that their voter registration may need to be cancelled. ProgressVA Education Fund, Virginia New Majority Education Fund, and the Fair Elections Legal Network responded promptly with a letter to the Department demanding an immediate plan to reassure voters as to their registration status.

The letter read, in part, "Voting is at the heart of what it means to be an American. Any action, intentional or accidental, which impedes that right is a serious threat to our democracy and should be addressed as such. On top of changing voting rules this year, the voter confusion this mailing could create is unacceptable if even one eligible voter is dissuaded from exercising their constitutional right.... In order to assure appropriate and timely steps are taken to rectify this distressing situation, we are requesting an immediate plan from the Department of Elections to contact all 125,000 voters affected and reassure them as to their registration status. We additionally request a similar expedited plan to immediately contact any voters eligible to vote in special elections on August 19th."

Wednesday evening, the Department announced plans for a new mailing to all impacted voters to properly communicate their registration status. "We thank Commissioner Cortes and the Department for their swift action to protect the rights of every eligible Virginia voter," said ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl. "While this mailing was an honest mistake, any action that creates voter confusion should be treated as the threat to voter participation that it is."

"For many voters who are unfamiliar with the process, this mailing was likely confusing and intimidating," said Virginia New Majority co-director Tram Nguyen. "The Department's immediate action to contact this impacted voters with corrected information is the right step. We hope that any voter confused about their registration status will contact their local registrar to ensure they can vote in upcoming elections."

"We look forward to working with the Department to educate voters and ensure every eligible voter can participate in our democracy," added Fair Elections Legal Network's Courtney Mills. "Our elections should be free, fair, and accessible and we're committed to working with our partners at DOE to keep them that way."

A copy of the organizations' July 30th letter to the Department is available online here.

July 1, 2014

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Michael Paul Williams opines at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Starting today, Virginia voters must present a photo ID to vote. Two weeks before this new law went into effect, State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, persuaded the State Board of Elections to reconsider allowing Virginians to vote with expired driver's licenses or passports. Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia... called the delay absurd, given that the new law was passed more than a year ago and there has been plenty of time to hash it out."

Progressive Point: Voting is the one time when we are all equal and have the same say. The real threat to our democracy is politicians who are trying to manipulate the rules to rig the outcome of our elections. Tea Party legislators like Senator Mark Obenshain want to change the rules yet again to further restrict what specific kinds of ID are ok for voting--IDs they know many Virginians don't have.

From its founding principles to the Voting Rights Amendments, our Constitution guarantees our right to vote -- whether man or woman, young or old, rich or poor. But instead making it easier for every eligible Virginian to cast a ballot, Obenshain and his allies are trying to dismantle our constitutional guarantee to have a voice in our democracy. Further restricting our ability to vote, on top of changing the ID requirements three times in the last three years, is a transparent attack on our voting rights. Obenshain and his Tea Party friends may accuse others of disrespecting the Constitution, but nothing is more disrespectful than trying to take away the fundamental freedom at the heart of it.

Get the Facts:

  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • Virginia's new voter ID law will take effect on July 1, requiring Virginians to have a photo ID to vote. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 9, 2014)
  • In 2012, "Virginia spent $2 million last year mailing new cards to all registered voters and educating Virginians about changes the 2012 General Assembly made to voting requirements." (Virginian-Pilot, February 13, 2013)
  • On Election Day in 2012 some Fairfax voters were forced to wait until 10:30 PM, three and a half hours after the polls closed, to cast their votes. One possible cause may be partisan opposition to the approval of qualified poll workers. (Washington Post, November 14, 2012)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)
  • The Virginia voter ID legislation is a "solution in search of a problem" and designed to suppress voters who would likely not vote for Republicans - minorities, younger voters such as students, immigrants, and also the elderly. (Washington Post Editorial Board, March 12, 2012)

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July 1, 2014

Hundreds of thousands could lack an acceptable ID

As new photo voter ID requirements go into effect on July 1st, ProgressVA Education Fund is launching www.GotIDVirginia.org, a new voter education resource to help guide citizens and ensure they're able to vote in November. The straightforward website guides voters through checking to see if they have an eligible ID, the steps to obtain a free photo voter ID, and verifying they know when and where to vote.

"Ensuring every eligible Virginia voter has the information and materials they need to cast a ballot is a top priority," said ProgressVA Education Fund executive director Anna Scholl. "With today's implementation of the new photo voter ID law, Virginia voters will have been subject to 3 different ID requirements over three years. These frequent changes reinforce how important it is to educate the public about the new law."

www.GotIDVirginia.org

"Unfortunately, the General Assembly only provided the State Board of Elections $200,000 to educate approximately 7 million Virginia voters about the new ID requirement," Scholl continued. "That lack of resources makes it more important for community organizations to step up and help spread the word. According to the State Board of Elections' own data, over 350,000 active Virginia voters don't have a DMV-issued ID. We're working to reach voters like these to ensure they have the materials they need to vote in November."

Among the forms of acceptable ID under the new law are a Virginia drivers' license, a US Passport, a photo ID issued by the US government, a student ID with a photo that was issued by any institution of higher education in Virginia, and an employee ID card with a photograph. Voters without one of these IDs can obtain a free voter photo ID at ANY local registrar's office (a map of offices is available at bit.ly/VAregistrars). The process to obtain an ID is simple: complete the application at the registrar's office, get your picture taken, and give the registrar your electronic signature. Voters will receive their ID through the mail in 7-10 days. Individuals can register to vote, update, or change their registration at the same time as applying for a free ID.

Complicating voter education efforts is a June 24th decision by the State Board of Elections to reexamine the final regulations regarding photo ID implementation. After bullying from conservative legislators like Senator Mark Obenshain, the Board voted 2-1 to solicit additional public comment on a provision allowing Virginia voters to use an expired drivers' license or passport for the purposes of voting. The public comment period will run from July 14th to August 4th. The rules will likely be reconsidered at the Board's August 27th meeting.

"Changing the rules governing what is a valid ID 8 weeks into the education period and close to 60 days before the November election is a recipe for voter confusion and disaster," said Scholl. "Several forms of acceptable ID under the new law do not even contain an expiration date. Whether or not a voter is legally able to drive themselves to the polls should have no impact on whether they can vote. We hope the Board will retain the current regulations rather than creating an expensive administrative nightmare and changing the rules close to 60 days before an election."

June 24, 2014

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The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "A week before Virginia's new voter ID law goes into effect, the State Board of Elections essentially froze one of the law's key regulations. Earlier this month, the board had determined that expired but otherwise valid forms of identification permitted under Virginia's new photo voter ID law will be accepted at the polls. But after the sponsor of the photo ID law -- Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg -- voiced his concern with this regulation, the board in a meeting Tuesday voted to reopen the public comment period for an additional 21 days and explore whether the agency has legal authority to determine what forms of ID are valid."

Progressive Point: In America, voters should choose their leaders, but Sen. Mark Obenshain is trying to pick and choose who can vote in Virginia. Obenshain and Tea Party legislators are bullying the Board of Elections into making it harder to vote. They want to change the rules again to further restrict what specific kinds of ID are ok for voting--IDs they know many Virginians don't have.

Voting is a fundamental freedom held dear by all Virginians regardless of for whom they vote.  By requiring forms of ID they know many of us don't have, conservatives in Richmond made it harder to exercise our constitutionally protected right to vote. Obenshain's partisan legislation already threatens our constitutionally protected right to vote, but for him threats don't go far enough. 

Get the Facts:

  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • Virginia's new voter ID law will take effect on July 1, requiring Virginians to have a photo ID to vote. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 9, 2014)
  • In 2012, "Virginia spent $2 million last year mailing new cards to all registered voters and educating Virginians about changes the 2012 General Assembly made to voting requirements." (Virginian-Pilot, February 13, 2013)
  • On Election Day in 2012 some Fairfax voters were forced to wait until 10:30 PM, three and a half hours after the polls closed, to cast their votes. One possible cause may be partisan opposition to the approval of qualified poll workers. (Washington Post, November 14, 2012)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)
  • The Virginia voter ID legislation is a "solution in search of a problem" and designed to suppress voters who would likely not vote for Republicans - minorities, younger voters such as students, immigrants, and also the elderly. (Washington Post Editorial Board, March 12, 2012)

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May 20, 2014

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WRIC reports, "Virginia is one of several states where Democrats have gone to court to challenge redistricting plans drawn by Republicans seeking to keep control of the U.S. House of Representatives. A lawsuit in federal court in Richmond accuses the Republican-controlled General Assembly of unconstitutional "racial gerrymandering." It says lawmakers improperly increased the percentage of African-American voters in the black-majority 3rd congressional district, making adjacent districts safer for GOP incumbents."

Progressive Point: In America, voters should be choosing their leaders, not the other way around. From making it harder for minorities and seniors to cast a ballot to indefensible gerrymandering of Virginia's districts, partisan lawmakers have pursued an agenda to ensure our votes count less, or not at all. Simply put, our right to vote in Virginia is being rigged by Richmond.

In the world's leading democracy, voting is the one thing that should bring us all together and the one time when we all have the same say as Americans. The underhanded schemes Richmond politicians have pushed are simply an attempt to brush us aside and pick and choose their own voters. Partisan officials are gerrymandering their voters from Congressional districts to the House of Delegates. The integrity of Virginia's elections was once paramount. But today, the biggest threat to our democracy is gerrymandering to change the rules and rig elections.

Get the Facts:

  • While Republican House of Delegate candidates received just 54.4% of the votes, they will control 67 out of 100 seats thanks to gerrymandering. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, November 12, 2013)
  • Gerrymandering is also a major problem in Virginia at the Congressional level. In 2012, President "Obama received 51.15 percent of Virginians' votes. Kaine got 52.86. And yet eight of the 11 members of the congressional delegation are Republicans, who won a grand total - statewide - of 70,000 more votes than Democratic candidates. Across Virginia, Kaine won 225,000 more votes than Republican George Allen. Obama won 150,000 more than Romney." (Virginian-Pilot, October 20, 2013)

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May 9, 2014

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The Washington Post Editorial Board opines, "It seems like virtually everyone on Capitol Hill is interested in fixing the Voting Rights Act. But who will step up and make something happen? Last year, the Supreme Court hollowed out one of the most powerful parts of the law, a formula prescribing which states and localities had to get before-the-fact federal approval of any changes they wanted to make to their voting rules... House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) should hold hearings and mark up the bill before the next recess. Then Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) should find floor time for it."

Progressive Point: At the foundation of America is the principle that we the voters choose our leaders, not the other way around. All Virginia voters have an equal opportunity to have our say on Election Day. The Voting Rights Act is our nation's most effective tool for protecting voting rights -- and our country's reputation as the world's greatest democracy.

From the time of America's founding to today, our Constitution has guaranteed our right to vote -- whether man or woman, young or old, rich or poor. The Voting Rights Act must reinforce that guarantee through ensuring the equal rights of people of color, individuals at all incomes levels, and at every age. When the voting rights of one Virginian are threatened, so are all of our values as Americans. As the world's leading democracy, the United States should have a voting system that is free, fair, and equally accessible to everyone. No true American leader would seek to silence the voice of the people.

Get the Facts:

  • "The Voting Rights Act continues to protect the voting rights of millions of voters across the country today. This landmark civil rights legislation is a critical safeguard to ensuring equal access to the ballot and guaranteeing our most fundamental right as Americans. Since its passage in 1965, the Voting Rights Act has guaranteed millions of minority voters a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted." (ACLU)

  • In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act: "a formula prescribing which states and localities had to get before-the-fact federal approval of any changes they wanted to make to their voting rules." The Supreme Court ruling was a severe blow to to the law's protections against discrimination. (Washington Post, May 5, 2014)

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April 28, 2014

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The Free Lance-Star editorial page staff opines, "More than 450,000 of our fellow Virginians are currently unable to vote...Virginia requires felons, once they serve their time, to petition the governor to restore their civil rights, such as the right to vote... Former Gov. Bob McDonnell made serious progress, restoring the rights of some 8,000 people--more than any governor before him. Now Gov. Terry McAuliffe has taken the next step, promising to create a list of those offenses that come with a waiting period, reducing from five years to three the waiting period for rehabilitated violent offenders, and removing drug crimes from that list."

Progressive Point: From its founding principles to the Voting Rights Amendments, our Constitution guarantees our right to vote -- whether man or woman, young or old, rich or poor. Virginians who have paid their debt to society also have a constitutionally protected right to vote that is equal to that of every other citizen in the Commonwealth. Getting on the right track includes restoring the right to vote to all eligible Virginia voters.

In a nation founded on the principle that we're all created equal, voting is the one time when we all have the same say. As the world's leading democracy, America should have a voting system that is free, fair, and equally accessible to everyone. We have a duty to protect that fundamental freedom everywhere--including ensuring that right is restored to our fellow Americans who have paid their debt to society. Our Governor is moving our Commonwealth in the right direction, but all barriers to restoring rights must be removed to ensure we never silence the voice of legal Virginia voters.

Get the Facts:

  • "Virginians who have made a mistake and paid their debt to society should have their voting rights restored through a process that is as transparent and responsive as possible... These changes will build on the process Virginia has in place to increase transparency for applicants and ensure that we are restoring Virginians' civil rights quickly and efficiently after they have applied and observed any necessary waiting period." - Gov. McAuliffe (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

  • Since Gov. McAuliffe took office, over 800 Virginians have had their civil rights restored. That includes, "the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury and serve as a notary public." (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

  • Only eight states that permanently disenfranchise people with certain criminal convictions. Virginia is one of them and must approve an individual's rights restoration. (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

  • Virginia has about 350,000 disenfranchised citizens. (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

  • "Several groups have advocated for years for changes to the state's restoration process. The ACLU of Virginia and the NAACP called on McDonnell to take executive action and automatically restore voting rights to ex-offenders, as they had urged governors in the past. The ACLU also advocated for most drug offenses to be classified as nonviolent, under the previous administration." (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

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April 18, 2014

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The Roanoke Times reports, "Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to announce today that he will shrink the time violent felons must wait to seek reinstatement of their voting rights and will remove some offenses from that list. The policy, slated to take effect April 21, comes on top of years of work to streamline the process, and aims to make the system easier to understand and to allow more felons to petition the state more quickly. In a series of changes to the state's restoration of rights process, McAuliffe plans to collapse the application waiting period from five to three years for people convicted of violent felonies and others that require a waiting period, and to remove drug offenses from that list."

Progressive Point: Virginia is home to the longest continuously serving legislature in America. We cherish our voting system and demand that it be free, fair, and equally accessible to everyone. Virginians who have paid their debt to society deserve to fully rejoin our community and regain their right to vote. We believe as Americans that all legally eligible voters should have an equal opportunity to have their say on Election Day.

In a nation founded on the principle that we're all created equal, voting is the one time when we all have the same say. Voting is a fundamental freedom guaranteed by more Constitutional amendments than any other right we have. As Americans we have a duty to protect that fundamental freedom everywhere--including ensuring that right is restored to our fellow Americans who have paid their debt to society. From its founding principles to the Voting Rights Amendments, our Constitution guarantees our right to vote -- whether man or woman, young or old, rich or poor.

Get the Facts:

  • "Virginians who have made a mistake and paid their debt to society should have their voting rights restored through a process that is as transparent and responsive as possible... These changes will build on the process Virginia has in place to increase transparency for applicants and ensure that we are restoring Virginians' civil rights quickly and efficiently after they have applied and observed any necessary waiting period." - Gov. McAuliffe (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

  • Since Gov. McAuliffe took office, over 800 Virginians have had their civil rights restored. That includes, "the right to vote, hold public office, serve on a jury and serve as a notary public." (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

  • Only eight states that permanently disenfranchise people with certain criminal convictions. Virginia is one of them and must  approve an individual's rights restoration. (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

  • Virginia has about 350,000 disenfranchised citizens. (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

  • "Several groups have advocated for years for changes to the state's restoration process. The ACLU of Virginia and the NAACP called on McDonnell to take executive action and automatically restore voting rights to ex-offenders, as they had urged governors in the past. The ACLU also advocated for most drug offenses to be classified as nonviolent, under the previous administration." (Roanoke Times, April 18, 2014)

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March 20, 2014

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The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "State election officials are ahead of schedule with the multistage implementation plan of Virginia's new voter ID law that takes effect July 1... The state is organizing a marketing campaign and vetting vendors charged with the creation of a voter identification card that will meet requirements under the new law, according to a plan and timeline developed by the State Board of Elections."

Progressive Point: Voting is a fundamental freedom held dear by all Virginians regardless of for whom they vote. New conservative voter ID laws requiring specific forms of ID are a blatant attempt by politicians to control who wins Virginia's elections. Partisan legislation that will go into effect in July threatens our constitutionally protected right to vote and will stop registered Virginians from participating in our democracy.

Voter restrictions designed to prevent senior, low income, and minority voters from voting will also cost Virginia taxpayers millions of dollars a year. By requiring forms of ID they know many of us don't have, conservatives in Richmond made it harder to exercise our constitutionally protected right to vote. Instead of making it harder for Virginians to vote, our leaders should be focused on fixing the long lines so many voters encounter, rather than forcing us to wait in line for hours cast a ballot.

Get the Facts:

  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • Virginia's new voter ID law will take effect on July 1, requiring Virginians to have a photo ID to vote. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 9, 2014)
  • In 2012, "Virginia spent $2 million last year mailing new cards to all registered voters and educating Virginians about changes the 2012 General Assembly made to voting requirements." (Virginian-Pilot, February 13, 2013)
  • On Election Day in 2012 some Fairfax voters were forced to wait until 10:30 PM, three and a half hours after the polls closed, to cast their votes. One possible cause may be partisan opposition to the approval of qualified poll workers. (Washington Post, November 14, 2012)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)
  • The Virginia voter ID legislation is a "solution in search of a problem" and designed to suppress voters who would likely not vote for Republicans - minorities, younger voters such as students, immigrants, and also the elderly. (Washington Post Editorial Board, March 12, 2012)
  • "The idea that we must stand in line for hours to cast a ballot turns the process into an endurance contest. It's ludicrous. It's the General Assembly's job to ensure that everyone who is eligible can vote in an orderly, timely manner. Virginia Beach can buy more voting machines, reconfigure precincts, publicize what's on each ballot and ensure that precincts have plenty of knowledgeable poll workers. But until the General Assembly acknowledges its own responsibility in making voting accessible, Election Day in Virginia will remain an affront to the democratic process." (Virginian-Pilot Editorial Board, March 13, 2014)

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March 13, 2014

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The Virginian-Pilot Editorial Board opines, "Some voters in Virginia Beach's College Park precinct waited in line four hours and 59 minutes in the 2012 presidential election. In two other city precincts, voters waited more than four hours...Virginia's General Assembly refuses to allow early voting. It refuses even to give senior citizens the option of voting absentee without having an excuse for why they can't vote on Election Day. Rather than allow voting at the city's elections office a week or two before, lawmakers have repeatedly shot down all efforts to expand voting hours past the 13-hour window on Election Day."

Progressive Point: In the world's leading democracy, voting should be free, fair, and accessible for all. By refusing to fix election day lines and requiring forms of ID they know many of us don't have, conservatives in Richmond made it harder to exercise our constitutionally protected right to vote. Instead of making it harder for Virginians to vote, our leaders should be focused on fixing the long lines so many voters encounter, rather than forcing us to wait in line for hours cast a ballot.

Long lines might as well be a poll tax for working class and hourly-wage workers who can't leave work for hours to vote. Our right to vote is the most basic principle of our democracy. Parents, seniors, and working Virginians need flexibility that allows them to vote early or on weekends. This is America - it should be voters choosing our leaders, not politicians choosing voters.

Get the Facts:

  • "The idea that we must stand in line for hours to cast a ballot turns the process into an endurance contest. It's ludicrous. It's the General Assembly's job to ensure that everyone who is eligible can vote in an orderly, timely manner. Virginia Beach can buy more voting machines, reconfigure precincts, publicize what's on each ballot and ensure that precincts have plenty of knowledgeable poll workers. But until the General Assembly acknowledges its own responsibility in making voting accessible, Election Day in Virginia will remain an affront to the democratic process." (Virginian-Pilot Editorial Board, March 13, 2014)
  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • Virginia's new voter ID law will take effect on July 1, requiring Virginians to have a photo ID to vote. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 9, 2014)
  • In 2012, "Virginia spent $2 million last year mailing new cards to all registered voters and educating Virginians about changes the 2012 General Assembly made to voting requirements." (Virginian-Pilot, February 13, 2013)
  • On Election Day in 2012 some Fairfax voters were forced to wait until 10:30 PM, three and a half hours after the polls closed, to cast their votes. One possible cause may be partisan opposition to the approval of qualified poll workers. (Washington Post, November 14, 2012)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)
  • The Virginia voter ID legislation is a "solution in search of a problem" and designed to suppress voters who would likely not vote for Republicans - minorities, younger voters such as students, immigrants, and also the elderly. (Washington Post Editorial Board, March 12, 2012)

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Ensure everyone can vote in Virginia

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February 3, 2014

The Washington Post editorializes, "Once the recount was over on Monday, control of Virginia's Senate was determined by a margin of less than a dozen votes in a special election in which a mere 20 percent of registered voters participated. This wasn't the first time a high-stakes race depended on an unhealthily small sliver of the electorate. Maybe only so many people will ever bother with a state senate special election. But registration and turnout would be a lot higher across the board if voting in the United States weren't a Kafkaesque exercise. Government has got to make voting easier."

Progressive Point: Voting is a fundamental freedom Virginians hold dear, regardless of for whom we vote. We should be focusing on bringing more Virginians into the democratic process, not excluding them from participation. But conservative voter ID laws requiring specific forms of ID are a blatant attempt by politicians to rig the outcome of our elections.

America is the world's leading democracy. We set the example by making sure every eligible American can participate. It should be voters choosing their leaders, but in Virginia, conservative politicians are still trying to pick and choose their voters. Removing barriers to voting will strengthen our democracy and help ensure everyone can make their voice heard.

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Get the Facts:

  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • Virginia's new voter ID law will take effect on July 1, requiring Virginians to have a photo ID to vote. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 9, 2014)
  • In 2012, "Virginia spent $2 million last year mailing new cards to all registered voters and educating Virginians about changes the 2012 General Assembly made to voting requirements." (Virginian-Pilot, February 13, 2013)
  • On Election Day in 2012 some Fairfax voters were forced to wait until 10:30 PM, three and a half hours after the polls closed, to cast their votes. One possible cause may be partisan opposition to the approval of qualified poll workers. (Washington Post, November 14, 2012)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)
  • The Virginia voter ID legislation is a "solution in search of a problem" and designed to suppress voters who would likely not vote for Republicans - minorities, younger voters such as students, immigrants, and also the elderly. (Washington Post Editorial Board, March 12, 2012)

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Voting restrictions have real costs

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January 10, 2014

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "The Virginia State Board of Elections on Wednesday approved the final phases of the implementation plan for the new voter ID law that will take effect July 1... Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the photo ID bill into law in March... Under the new law, documents that do not contain a photograph of the voter are no longer acceptable forms of identification when a person is voting in person. However, the new law allows voters without photo ID to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day. The voter then has four days to present identification to their local electoral board for their vote to be counted."

Progressive Point: New conservative voter ID laws requiring specific forms of ID are a blatant attempt by politicians to control who wins Virginia's elections. Partisan legislation that will go into effect in July threatens our constitutionally protected right to vote and will stop registered Virginians from participating in our democracy. Furthermore, voter restrictions designed to prevent senior, low income, and minority voters from voting will also cost Virginia taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Voting is a fundamental freedom held dear by all Virginians regardless of for whom they vote. We should be focusing on bringing more Virginians into the democratic process, not excluding them from participation. Furthermore, low income Virginians, who can least afford them, are hit the hardest by new voting restrictions. We've never solved anything in this country with less democracy and we won't now.

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  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • In 2012, "Virginia spent $2 million last year mailing new cards to all registered voters and educating Virginians about changes the 2012 General Assembly made to voting requirements." (Virginian-Pilot, February 13, 2013)
  • On Election Day in 2012 some Fairfax voters were forced to wait until 10:30 PM, three and a half hours after the polls closed, to cast their votes. One possible cause may be partisan opposition to the approval of qualified poll workers. (Washington Post, November 14, 2012)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)
  • The Virginia voter ID legislation is a "solution in search of a problem" and designed to suppress voters who would likely not vote for Republicans - minorities, younger voters such as students, immigrants, and also the elderly. (Washington Post Editorial Board, March 12, 2012)

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December 20, 2013

The News & Advance editorializes, "Although no one has demonstrated a clear need for Virginia voters to show a photo of themselves at the polls, state officials are doggedly working toward creating rules for the new identification card needed by July 1... Making it easier to vote never was the point of the photo identification law. Rather, the point seems to be to make it more difficult for people to vote, especially minorities and the elderly. For them, sadly, the more difficult it becomes to vote, the fewer times they will bother to go to the polls."

Progressive Point: Our elections should be free, fair, and accessible. New conservative voter ID rules requiring specific forms of ID are a blatant attempt by politicians to control who wins Virginia's elections. This is America. It should be voters choosing their leaders in our democracy, not politicians picking and choosing their voters.

This new conservative, anti-voting law is solely aimed at preventing law-abiding citizens with the least time and money from voting, including people hit hardest by the recession. Three new voter ID requirements in three years causes fewer voters to be confident they have the necessary ID to cast a ballot. Constantly changing rules, along with conservative assertions that no voter education on the new requirements is necessary, will ensure confusion at polling places. This is America. It should be voters choosing their leaders in our democracy, but in Virginia, conservative politicians are trying to pick and choose their voters.  

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Get the Facts:

  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • in 2012, "Virginia spent $2 million last year mailing new cards to all registered voters and educating Virginians about changes the 2012 General Assembly made to voting requirements." (Virginian-Pilot, February 13, 2013)
  • On Election Day in 2012 some Fairfax voters were forced to wait until 10:30 PM, three and a half hours after the polls closed, to cast their votes. One possible cause may be partisan opposition to the approval of qualified poll workers. (Washington Post, November 14, 2012)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)

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December 10, 2013

The Washington Post reports, "An attorney for state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain hinted in court Monday that the Republican would consider using an obscure law to throw the outcome of the attorney general's race into the hands of the General Assembly... Even floating the idea of contesting the race through the legislature is an act of political daring. Until now, Republican leaders, including Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), have indicated that they thought a challenge would be inappropriate unless evidence of major voting irregularities emerged."

Progressive Point: Millions of Virginians voted in November and every vote should count. Now Mark Obenshain is trying to throw out valid votes just to win an election. Even worse, his lawyer has threatened to ignore every voter and instead ask his colleagues in the legislature to overturn the election. The right to vote and choose our leaders is at the heart of what it means to be an American. Every vote should count and every vote should be protected.

Virginians should never have to worry whether every vote is going to be counted. Conservatives across the country have tried to make it more difficult to register and to vote. Obenshain even sponsored Virginia's very own photo ID law. But it's clear now that even if you successfully cast a ballot, Obenshain still isn't sure he wants to let it count. This is America -- we've never solved anything in this country with less democracy, and we won't now.

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  • Sen. Mark Herring beat Sen. Mark Obenshain in November's election for Virginia Attorney General. Herring won by 165 votes, out of 2.2 million total votes cast, and a recount is being conducted. (Washington Post, December 9, 2013)
  • An attorney for Obenshain said that their campaign is considering contesting the recount by using a law that would have the election decided by the Republican controlled General Assembly instead of Virginia voters. (Washington Post, December 9, 2013)
  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)

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December 9, 2013

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "With implementation of Virginia's new voter ID law seven months away, state election officials are scrambling to affordably create a photo ID card that will be provided to voters for free... Democrats and several civic groups opposed the implementation of the new photo ID law, arguing that it will make it more difficult to vote... Another concern is whether the program will be implemented in a way that does not adversely affect the voting rights of minorities, people with mobility limitations, people dependent on public transportation, and others who may have difficulty accessing free IDs at registrars' offices that may be far from their home."

Progressive Point: Our elections should be free, fair, and accessible. New conservative voter ID laws make it harder for seniors, students, minorities and lower income Virginians to vote. Requiring specific forms of ID is a blatant attempt by politicians to control who wins Virginia's elections. It should be voters choosing their leaders in our democracy, but in Virginia, conservative politicians are trying to pick and choose their voters.

The fundamental right to vote and choose our leaders is at the heart of what it means to be an American. This conservative anti-voting law is solely aimed at preventing law-abiding citizens with the least time and money from voting, including people hit hardest by the recession. Its requirement that voters, many of them life-long voters, travel to the General Registrar's office in order to obtain a new ID is an unnecessary and costly burden on these low-income voters. Conservative lawmakers in Richmond have demonstrated yet again their disregard for the fundamental right to vote we cherish as Virginians. 

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Get the Facts:

  • Conservative legislation from the 2013 Virginia General Assembly eliminates several previously valid forms of voter ID. The legislation will subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. (ProgressVA, February 5, 2013)
  • in 2012, "Virginia spent $2 million last year mailing new cards to all registered voters and educating Virginians about changes the 2012 General Assembly made to voting requirements." (Virginian-Pilot, February 13, 2013)
  • On Election Day in 2012 some Fairfax voters were forced to wait until 10:30 PM, three and a half hours after the polls closed, to cast their votes. One possible cause may be partisan opposition to the approval of qualified poll workers. (Washington Post, November 14, 2012)
  • The 2012 voter ID law passed in Virginia forced voters who did not bring one of the approved forms of ID to the poll to cast a provisional ballots that was only counted if they reported to their election office with an approved ID within three days of the election. (Virginian-Pilot, July 30, 2012)

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The cost of gerrymandering

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November 12, 2013

The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorializes, "In a state with fairly drawn districts, the number of seats held by a party should be proportional to its share of the popular vote: If a party gets two-thirds of the vote statewide, then it should hold two-thirds of the seats. Thanks to precision gerrymandering, Virginia has nothing like that... [T]he two-party breakdown was 54.4 percent for Republicans to 40.3 for Democrats... Yet Republicans will have 67 seats in the House, meaning the GOP topped its popular vote share by about 13 seats. Gerrymandering gives them a partisan advantage they do not deserve."

Progressive Point: This is America. It should be voters choosing their leaders in our democracy. But in Virginia, partisan politicians pick and choose their voters for the House of Delegates. The integrity of our elections should be paramount. But today, the biggest threat to our democracy is gerrymandering to change the rules and rig elections in their favor.

From gerrymandering Virginia's House of Delegates to making it harder for hundreds of thousands of Virginians to cast a ballot, conservative lawmakers have pursued an agenda that would ensure our votes count less, or not at all. Our elections should be free, fair, and accessible. The underhanded schemes Richmond conservatives have pushed are simply an attempt to push us aside and pick and choose their own voters. In the world's leading democracy, voting is the one thing that should bring us all together and the one time when we all have the same say as Americans.

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  • While Republican House of Delegate candidates received just 54.4% of the votes, they will control 67 out of 100 seats thanks to gerrymandering. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, November 12, 2013)
  • Gerrymandering is also a major problem in Virginia at the Congressional level. In 2012, President "Obama received 51.15 percent of Virginians' votes. Kaine got 52.86. And yet eight of the 11 members of the congressional delegation are Republicans, who won a grand total - statewide - of 70,000 more votes than Democratic candidates. Across Virginia, Kaine won 225,000 more votes than Republican George Allen. Obama won 150,000 more than Romney." (Virginian-Pilot, October 20, 2013)

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Count every vote

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November 7, 2013

The Virginian-Pilot reports, "For the second time in less than a decade, a down-to-the-wire race for Virginia attorney general seems headed for a recount. According to see-saw state election statistics as of late Wednesday, Democrat Mark Herring and Republican Mark Obenshain were locked in all but a dead heat. Obenshain led by 681 votes out of 2.2 million cast. A margin that small, if it holds, will spur a recount. State law allows defeated candidates to request one if the difference is less than 1 percentage point."

Progressive Point: The right to vote and choose our leaders is at the heart of what it means to be an American. Tuesday's election for Attorney General is still too close to call and provisional ballots are at risk of not being counted. Right now, we need to make sure every voter is protected and every vote is counted.

All voters should have an equal opportunity to have their say on Election Day no matter how they vote on Tuesday. Thousands of Virginians cast provisional ballots, and if you are one of them your fundamental right to choose your leaders is at risk of being thrown out. If you forgot your ID on Tuesday and your provisional ballot was put in a green envelope, you must get a copy of your ID to the registrar by Friday for your vote to count. This is America -- we've never solved anything in this country with less democracy, and we won't now.

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Get the Facts:

  • To make sure your vote gets counted, call the  voter information hotline right now at 1-855-910-VOTE (8683).

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A vote for progress

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November 6, 2013

The Washington Post reports, "Of the many lessons to draw from Virginia's unusual gubernatorial election Tuesday, one of the most surprising was Democrat Terry McAuliffe's victory even while supporting such liberal policies as same-sex marriage and stricter gun controls... Stepping back from the ebbs and flows of the past few weeks, an overall message of the campaign was a shift to the left on such issues as guns and gays."

Progressive Point: Yesterday Virginians voted for progress. We voted for health care access for our families, gun violence prevention, and the importance of home front investments across the Commonwealth. Now it is time for our elected officials to work together and start building the Virginia we voted for.

This election was a signal to our leaders to focus on issues that have real, progressive impacts on real people. Throughout Virginia, businesses, parents, and seniors have struggled with the government shutdown and are still struggling with the consequences of the sequester -- layoffs, closures, safety risks, less health care and education. Tea party politicians like Ken Cuccinelli lose because they want to cut the services we need like health care access and education while laying off the Americans who keep our country running, like teachers and firefighters. Yesterday was a vote to stop protecting conservative and corporate special interests and start prioritizing ordinary Americans.

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  • Bipartisan research conducted on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns found broad support in Virginia for stronger violence prevention measures. (Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 11/30/12)
  •  
    • 88% of Virginians support requiring gun owners to pass a background check.
  •  
    • 91% of Virginia gun households support requiring gun owners to pass a background check.
  • Efforts to limit women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion, are overwhelmingly opposed by Virginians.
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    • 86 percent of Virginia voters believe abortion should be legal in all or some circumstances. (NBC News, 4/10/13)
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    • 58 percent of Virginians oppose the new building requirements for first-trimester abortion services, compared to 35% who favor them. (Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health, 3/20/13)
    • Over 3,600 Virginians submitted public comments opposing the regulations, which were delivered to the Board of Health by ProgressVA and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. (ProgressVA, 3/28/13)
  • "About half of all uninsured veterans in Virginia and more than half of all VA only insured veterans could qualify for coverage under Medicaid expansion; meaning they had incomes below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level in 2010 ($26,000 for a family of three)." (The Commonwealth Institute, February 1, 2013)
  •  
    • "Providing earned citizenship for" currently undocumented immigrant "workers would increase their wages and, over 10 years, boost U.S. GDP by $1.4 trillion, increase total income for all Americans by $791 billion, generate $184 billion in additional state an
  •  
    • d federal tax revenue from currently undocumented immigrants, and add about 2 million jobs to the U.S. economy."
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    • "Compared to the benefits of citizenship, providing legal status alone to currently undocumented workers would, over 10 years, result in $568 billion less GDP, and $321 billion less total income. An estimated 820,000 fewer total jobs would be created, and federal and state governments would lose out on $75 billion in additional tax revenue according to outside estimates."

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November 5, 2013

Politico reports, "Vice President Joe Biden on Monday delivered a closing pitch for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, painting the Virginia race as a major test of the mainstream electorate's answer to a resurgent tea party. 'This race has captured the attention of the entire nation,' Biden said. 'Not just because it's a ... race in a bellwether state that has become the face of progress in this country. But because it's the first major race between the forces and faces of the new Republican tea party -- a tea party whose social recidivism is only outgunned by its hostility to science and technology and innovation and scholarship.'"

Progressive Point: There is a lot at stake today for Virginia and if you don't vote, you can't complain. We're Americans. In a nation founded on the principle that we're all created equal, voting is the one time when we are all equal and have the same say.

Today is Virginia's opportunity for voters to choose our leaders, instead of politicians choosing voters. It's our responsibility as American citizens to participate in our great democracy, even if some politicians and their allies are pulling out all the stops to stop us. Voting is your chance to take control over what happens to your family and your community. We all need to vote and make sure the politicians know we count and matter.

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Get the Facts:

  • Do you know what form of ID you need to bring? View the official list here.

  • You can find your up-to-date polling place, driving directions, absentee voting information and more on the State Board of Election's website.

  • If you encounter any sort of problem at your polling place or have a question, call the nonpartisan election protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Examples of potential issues at the polls include:
    • Long lines
    • Voter intimidation
    • Suspicious behavior
    • Voting machine malfunctions
    • Registration errors

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