ACLU of Virginia says HB 9 is unnecessary and will suppress voting by the elderly, low-income persons, and racial minorities.Richmond, VA– The House Privileges and Elections Committee today approved a bill, on a 16-6 vote, that would require voters who are unable to show an approved ID at the polls to cast a provisional ballot.
“This bill serves absolutely no function but to make it more difficult to vote in Virginia,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “Most people carry IDs these days, but if they don’t, or theirs has been misplaced or stolen, they will have to cast a ballot that will not be counted unless the electoral board is convinced of the voter’s identity at a meeting held the day after elections.”
“Every indication is that elderly persons, low-income persons and racial minorities— who have the same constitutional right to vote as everyone else—will be the most affected by this law,” added Willis.
“This bill is based entirely on the myth that there is rampant voter impersonation fraud in our electoral system,” added Willis. “In fact, recent studies show the opposite to be true. Voter impersonation, which is a felony, is almost impossible to pull off in today’s world. Besides, how many people are willing to risk time in prison, a hefty fine, and a lifetime voting ban to cast one vote on one election day?”
Under current Virginia law, voters who do not have an ID at the polls are allowed to cast a regular ballot after signing a form swearing to their identity. A provisional ballot, however, is not counted until the electoral board meets and verifies the voter’s identity, even though the voter’s name appeared on the poll book on Election Day.
The House Privileges and Elections Committee also approved a companion bill that closes electoral board meetings called for the purpose of evaluating provisional ballots. HB 63 passed on a 17-5 vote.
“Under these two bills, not only will many voters need to appear before the electoral board in order to have their votes counted, but the electoral board’s proceedings will be cut off from the press and others we depend on to keep election officials accountable,” said Willis.
SB 1, a voter ID bill with provisions similar to those of HB 9, was introduced in the Senate and earlier this week passed a Senate Privileges and Elections subcommittee on a vote of 4-3. SB 1 will be heard by the full Senate committee on Tuesday, January 31.
Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, 804-644-8022