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We’re going to miss this making it easier to vote business

virginia politics
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Nearly 3.3 million people voted in the 2021 state election, no doubt spurred by a batch of new laws passed by the Virginia General Assembly in the past two years making it easier to vote.

We’re going to miss being able to do that after Republicans take over and make their, ahem, election integrity platform a reality.

The new laws included 45 days of no-excuse early voting, a repeal of voter ID, automatic registration for people accessing services at the DMV, extended in-person voting hours.

All great things.

“The Virginia Department of Election’s commitment to conducting a fair and free election keeps our democracy protected,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “We have worked hard to remove barriers and ensure voting is accessible for every eligible Virginian. Elections must be secure in order for everyone’s voice to be heard. Thank you to the hard-working employees at the Department of Election for everything you do.”

The Virginia Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in elections administration, requires local election officials to obtain feedback or pre-approval for voting changes, and allows individuals to sue in cases of voter suppression. It requires localities to seek public comment or pre-approval from the Office of the Attorney General on any proposed voting changes, and empowers voters and/or the attorney general to sue in cases of voter suppression.

The law also prohibits at-large local elections if they dilute the voting power of racial minorities, prompting changes in Waynesboro that will impact elections for two of the five seats on Waynesboro City Council.

The Virginia Department of Elections invested heavily under Northam in training election officials and poll workers, developing PROTECT 2020, a virtual security workshop, as a federal, state, and local collaboration to support the training needed to keep Virginia’s elections safe and secure.

The series of 14 workshops shared security best practices and operating procedures with local administration leaders, information technology professionals, locality emergency management staff, and election offices at all levels. The content was designed to improve threat awareness, aid with planning, and develop recommendations.

The workshop won two Telly Awards in the categories of Non-Broadcast: Training and Non-Broadcast: Internal Communications.

The Telly Awards were established in 1979 to recognize the best videos created within television and across all screens annually. Telly Award winners showcase the excellent work from some of the most applauded advertisement agencies, television stations, and organizations from around the world.

This year, the Telly Awards received over 12,000 submissions from all 50 states and five continents.

“Commissioner Piper and the staff at the Department of Elections deserve to be recognized for their tireless work,” Secretary of Administration Grindly Johnson said. “Daily, they work to guarantee the Commonwealth is prepared for local, state, and federal elections.”

“We’re especially honored by the recognition these awards shed on our constant, year-round efforts to ensure free, fair, and secure elections,” Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Christopher Piper said. “This is especially rewarding given that PROTECT 2020 was our first ever virtual training effort, which accomplished our training objectives while ensuring COVID-19 health precautions were taken to protect all those involved.”

That’s a lot of work for something that’s going to soon be gathering dust on a shelf.

Story by Chris Graham