Democrats decry Republican efforts to block vote

Democrat vs. Republican on whiteThe House and State Senate, in separate votes on Tuesday, advanced legislation that Democratic critics say will incease barriers to voting for hundreds of thousands of Virginians.

House Bill 1337 and Senate Bill 719 each remove a “copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter” from the list of acceptable form of identification to vote at the polls.  Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1256 would require photo ID at the polls, essentially eliminating all forms of identification unless a voter has a photo ID, and requires the State Board of Elections to issue a voter ID containing a voter’s photograph and signature if the voter does not have another form of photo ID.

Approximately, 408,000 Virginia voters do not have state issued photo identification, the vast majority of them being seniors, college students and the working poor.

“This legislative session, House Republicans have defeated every single measure to make voting more accessible for qualified Virginia voters. Republicans have blocked legislation to institute an Early Voting period, expand No-Excuse Absentee voting, extend Voting Hours to 8pm, and a host of other bills to improve access to the ballot box,” said Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Chesterfield and Henrico). “Now, Republicans are pushing forward a bill to create more obstacles and make voting more difficult for hundreds of thousands Virginia’s seniors, students, and working poor. This measure is a step backwards for the Commonwealth.  Every citizen should take notice of this inexcusable action.”

Speaking on SB 1256, State Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, “Last year Republicans went to great pains to change voter ID laws. The Commonwealth spent a lot of money to tell the voters that we changed the laws. Last year, when a similar law passed, the other side of the aisle said, ‘This is the fix. This will solve the problem.’ Now, here we are again.”

“This is the second year in a row we have made it harder to vote for no good reason. In-person fraud is about as rare as getting struck by lightning. All we’re doing is to make it harder for older people and the poor and people not keeping up with every change to the law to vote,” said State Sen. John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke).

“Restricting access to the polls by mandating photo ID does nothing but confuse voters who are used to heading to the polls with their just their voter ID card or previous forms of ID allowed,” said Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Del. Charniele Herring. “Instead of passing bills that create jobs and work towards a comprehensive transportation package, Republicans are focused on rigging elections by limiting access to the polls, while placing the burden on the taxpayer.”

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