Senate Democrats oppose voter suppression efforts

State Senate Democrats today joined members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and its chair, Sen. Mamie Locke, Congressman Bobby Scott, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, Civil Rights Leader Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran and other concerned citizens to stand in united opposition to ongoing state legislative efforts to deny Virginians’ their right to vote.

“These bills have been submitted under the guise of the fake problem of voter fraud,” said Sen. Janet Howell, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, “but their only effect would be to make it more difficult for African Americans, seniors, low-income Virginians, and Virginians with disabilities to vote.”

A series of Republican-backed bills making their way through the Virginia General Assembly would put limits on who can vote by absentee ballot and also require voters to present specific forms of ID to be able to cast a vote at the polls.

Sen. Yvonne Miller said that “Republicans want to cut a large portion of Virginians out of the voting process. They want to turn back the clock toward a time when it was prohibitively difficult for African Americans to vote.”

Sen. Toddy Puller explained that low-income and disabled Virginians are among the least likely to have an ID that meets these new stringent requirements, which would even remove a state-issued voter card as a valid voter ID. “How can we have legitimate government if we are cutting some of our citizens out of the process?” she wondered. “Just because you happened make less money or to have a disability, you should not have to jump through all these hoops to vote.”

“We’ve seen at all the hearings in the Senate and House of Delegates, these guys cannot name one instance of in-person voter fraud in Virginia. This is a solution in search of a problem–and a terrible one at that,” said Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw.

Sen. Howell added, “It’s no secret why they’re doing this. Republicans want to keep certain segments of the population from voting to make it easier for them to win elections. They want to stack the deck in their favor and that’s what this is really about.”

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