Today, two Democratic Party activists, Barbara H. Lee and Gonzalo J. Aida Brescia, and the Democratic Party of Virginia filed suit against the State Board of Elections and the Department of Elections to protect Virginians’ right to vote.
The suit, which was filed in federal court in Richmond, seeks to strike down Virginia’s voter photo ID law, to remedy Virginia’s long wait times to vote, and to re-enfranchise all nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences and paid all fines, fees, and restitution.
The voter ID law, which requires a photo ID to vote, was passed in 2013, in the wake of a sea change in Virginia politics. President Obama, who carried the Commonwealth in 2008 and 2012, was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Virginia in over 40 years.
“The Commonwealth voted strongly to support Democrats in recent national elections. After Republicans determined they couldn’t change the minds of the electorate, they decided to change the makeup of the electorate instead by making it more difficult for Virginians to exercise their right to vote,” said Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. “We’re filing this case to protect that right.”
Democrats contend that the Republican majority in the General Assembly has also failed to take action to resolve Virginia’s recurring problem of long wait times to vote, even though some precincts had lines of two hours or more in the 2012 presidential election.
Today’s complaint makes clear that the voter ID law was enacted, and that Republicans in the General Assembly have refused to take action to resolve the problem of long wait times to vote, with the intent to suppress the turnout of African-American, Latino, and young voters, who tend to vote Democratic, in hopes of influencing elections to favor Republicans.
The plaintiffs are represented by Perkins Coie LLP.
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) issued the following statement Thursday in response to the suit:
“This is another politically-motivated lawsuit funded by George Soros and out of state interest groups who are seeking to manipulate the court system in order to benefit the Democratic Party.
“Public polling suggests that three quarters of Virginians support our photo ID law because the measure just makes sense. It protects the rights of individuals and the integrity of the democratic process. More than a dozen states have enacted photo ID laws, which have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court on multiple occasions. I am completely confident this law will withstand this disingenuous challenge.”