Each Wednesday at noon, we hold a twitter chat using the hashtag #LibertyChatVA focusing on one of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia’s issue areas. To get our followers started thinking about questions, we publish a blog in advance discussing the issue. Join us Wednesday at noon for our #LibertyChatVA!
Hope R. Amezquita, Staff Attorney & Legislative Counsel
We may be approaching the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the historic ground-breaking law prohibiting voting and election practices that discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity, but we’re still fighting to protect the right to vote in Virginia. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a provision of the VRA that required states with a history of voting discrimination to submit voting law changes for pre-clearance by the federal government. The same year, the General Assembly passed a strict voter photo ID law that went into effect on July 1, 2014.
Without pre-clearance of these voting practices, it is clear that more protection is needed. As we move closer to Election Day on November 4, 2014, we are revving up our efforts to protect and defend voting rights. In the past week, the Virginia Department of Elections made headlines for mistakenly sending 125,000 Virginia residents a letter informing them that their registration status was in jeopardy. The mistake has put voters at risk of being disenfranchised and is causing confusion as the Commonwealth prepares to administer the first election under the new, strict voter photo ID law.
Another incident making headlines is the State Board of Elections efforts to implement the new voter photo ID law. The State Board of Elections is being bombarded by public comments opposing a proposed regulation that would ban voters from using expired, otherwise acceptable, photo IDs to vote. Just a few weeks ago the SBE decided that expired IDs were acceptable! You can read our comment here. Even worse, the public education campaign about the new voter photo ID law is nowhere to be seen and many voters aren’t aware of the new requirement! Make sure you let the SBE know that you oppose this proposed regulation by Monday, August 4, 2014, by 11:59 p.m.
Afterward, join us on Wednesday, August 6 at 12 p.m. to discuss the current status of voting rights and whether Virginia is truly “ID Ready” for the upcoming Election Day.