Republicans Vote to Restrict Voting Rights

“Republicans are trying to turn back the clock on Virginia”, says Sen. Donald McEachin 

Today, Senate Republicans voted to place unprecedented restrictions on the right of Virginians to vote. Senate Bill 1, which passed without a single Democratic vote in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee. 

Senate Bill 1, a top priority of the Senate Republican leadership, creates an onerous new standard of identification that all Virginians must meet in order to vote. Citizens who cannot present an accepted form of identification will be barred from voting. Those impacted by this legislation are overwhelmingly the young, the elderly, minorities, and disabled Virginians.

A Partisan Solution to a Non-Existent Problem

“It is clear that Senate Bill 1 is not really about protecting the voting process, but about making it more difficult for the most disadvantaged members of society to vote,” said Sen. Donald McEachin, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus. In committee today, Senator McEachin asked Sen. Steve Martin, the sponsor of SB 1, to name a specific incident of voter fraud in Virginia. Sen. Martin responded, “I cannot do that.” 

Sen. Chap Peterson pointed out that if fraud were occurring, citizens defrauded of their vote would likely go to the police—but there are no such reports. “Instead, we are hearing from all corners of the Commonwealth that their grandparents, their sons, and their daughters won’t be able to vote because of this unnecessary, cumbersome restrictions.” he said.

Sen. Ralph Northam said that “the supporters of this bill were unable to explain why this bill is necessary. It’s clear that Senate Bill 1 is actually aimed at suppressing the vote of those who can least defend themselves: poor, disabled, minority, and young Virginians.”

Sen. Janet Howell explained that seniors are especially vulnerable. Representatives from the AARP have made clear that many seniors will not learn about these requirements. “They have been voting for years, they don’t know they are supposed to bring new documentation, and they will be turned away at the polls.”
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