“These are three timely and important bills that advance constitutional rights in Virginia,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis, “and they have all landed on the Governor’s desk with strong support from legislators in the House and Senate. We hope the Governor is listening.”
Legislators this session passed an omnibus voting bill (HB 1878/SB 1188/SB 848), but the ACLU’s interest lies chiefly in a single provision of the measure that permits voters to wear political buttons, stickers or other campaign apparel while voting. The ACLU sued the State Board of Elections last December after it implemented a rule prohibiting such apparel. That case is pending, but will be moot if the Governor signs this bill. The ACLU maintains that the First Amendment protects the right of voters to silently and passively support their candidates while in the polls.
Last fall, in a case that garnered much public sympathy, a group of citizens in Gloucester County were fined $80,000 by a judge after attempting to follow Virginia’s somewhat arcane “removal” law to oust four members of the Board of Supervisors who had been indicted on criminal charges. The ACLU is assisting the citizens in their appeal of the fine, but HB 2465/SB 1394 will protect the right of others to go to court in the future to have a public official removed from office without fear of sanctions or dismissal of their case for making a minor procedural or technical mistake.
The ACLU is also asking the Governor to sign HB 1587/ SB 1431, which places limitations on the federal Real ID Act as applies to Virginia drivers. The still-unimplemented federal law requires DMVs in every state to collect and store background information on every driver, but the Virginia law will prevent DMV from collecting financial data (such as tax returns or personal investment information) or biometric data (such as DNA, fingerprints, or retinal scans) from drivers, even if it is required by the Real ID Act.
If the Governor signs HB 1587/ SB 1431, Virginia will join 21 other states that have passed anti-Real ID Act legislation.
The ACLU is also seeking to have the Governor veto two death penalty expansion bills and the specialty license plate bill that includes authorization for a “Choose Life” license plate.
Contact: Kent Willis (office) 804/644-8022