Democrat Senator Mark Herring is running for Attorney General
House and Senate Democrats held At a joint press conference in the House Briefing Room House and Senate Democrats criticized Republican whose bills institute roadblocks and obstacles to voting for hundreds of thousands of Virginia citizens they said.
Bipartisan election reform bills that addressed the massive lines and hours of long waits that many Virginia voters experienced in November 2012 were killed in Republican controlled committees.
“After presiding over an embarrassing election day, absolutely nothing was accomplished this session by the Majority to improve our performance,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mark Sickles (D-Franconia). “Virginia’s seniors and working men and women should never have to stand on their feet for hours on end to cast their ballot, yet the House repeatedly defeats common sense reforms that would make it easier for Virginians to participate in our democracy. Democrats arrived in Richmond with a sense of urgency, but leave disappointed by additional obstacles placed on hundreds of thousands of qualified Virginia citizens.”
Senator Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton) said, “Voting is a fundamental American right. Senate Bill 1256 will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of Virginians to vote by forcing them to show certain forms of identification. It disproportionately affects students, the elderly, low-income, and minority voters. Our elections should be free, fair, and accessible. Politicians should not get to rig the outcome by rigging the electorate.”
Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) spoke out against Senator Obenshain’s (R-Harrisonburg) bill, SB 1077, that would make voting more difficult and create a second-class status for naturalized United States citizens.
Delegate Lopez said, “The right to vote and to elect our leaders is something that has always set our country apart from the rest of the world. Billions of people around the globe do not have this sacred right. The Republican’s bill will unnecessarily impose barriers to voting for naturalized citizens and will saddle the Commonwealth with an inaccurate and costly verification system. It will also create a second-class status for new United States citizens. That is not the American way, nor is it the Virginia way. I hope that both Democrats and Republicans will stand together to defeat this measure.”
Democratic Party Chairwoman Charniele Herring said Republicans are “actively trying to make it harder for hundreds of thousands of Virginians to vote. This has to stop. Voting is the one thing that brings us all together as Americans. It’s our responsibility to make sure everyone has that opportunity.”
Senator Mark R. Herring (D-Loudoun) said, “The 2012 General Assembly Session was known for the War on Women. The 2013 Session could be known for the War on Voters. Long lines are just another form of voter disenfranchisement. Rather than change their politics, Republicans are just making it harder for people who disagree with them to vote.”
Senator Mark Obenshain- SB 1256 Voter identification requirements; photo ID required at polls, application for absentee ballot. (Senator Mark Obenshain is running for the Republican nomination for Attorney General.)
Summary- Requires photo ID at the polls by eliminating all forms of identification that do not contain a photograph of the voter from the list of forms of identification any one of which a voter must present in order to be allowed to vote. The bill also adds a valid United States passport to the list and requires that a student identification card issued by an institution of higher education in the Commonwealth contain a photograph in order to be used by a voter. The bill does not affect the right of a voter who does not present one of the required forms of identification to cast a provisional ballot. The bill also provides that the State Board shall provide free voter registration cards that contain a voter’s photograph and signature if the voter does not possess other satisfactory photo ID. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2014, and its provisions are contingent upon funding being included in a general appropriation act passed by the 2013 Session of the General Assembly.
Senator Mark Obenshain- SB 1077 Registered voters; citizenship, SAVE Program.
Summary- Authorizes the State Board of Elections to apply to participate in the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE Program) operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The SAVE Program enables access to immigration status and citizenship status information possessed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If the application is approved, the State Board will utilize the SAVE Program for the purposes of verifying that voters listed in the Virginia Voter Registration System are United States citizens and shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the use of the immigration status and citizenship status information received from the SAVE Program. The bill also requires that the Department of Motor Vehicles obtain the alien registration number of any person who is not a citizen and who applies for a license, permit, or identification card and include this number on the monthly list of noncitizens submitted by the Department to the State Board.