United Republican Senators Continue Assault on Virginians' Voting Rights

Senator Creigh Deeds calls Senate Bill 536 “ the height of paranoia.”

Today, Senate Republicans passed yet another divisive bill that makes it more difficult for Virginians to vote. Senate Bill 536 is designed to deny Virginians their right to vote on Election Day if they have previously returned an absentee ballot — even if that ballot is blank or damaged. This continues a month-long trend of mean-spirited Republican legislation that seeks to strip Virginians of their most basic rights.

Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County) said, "In this situation, when a ballot is returned, unvoted, the person’s vote is provisional. This bill is the height of paranoia. This bill is not the request of most registrars. It is absolutely unnecessary. This is one of the worst bills I’ve ever seen, and I hope we vote it down."

Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) said, "Provisional ballots are too frequently not counted. We weaken our democracy when we force some people to vote in a way that increases the likelihood their vote will not be counted. This is a solution in search of a problem."

In the past month, Senate Republicans have passed two other bills that limit access to voting, SB 57 and SB 1, which in the name of solving a non-existent problem may prevent thousands of Virginians from voting and cost the commonwealth millions of dollars. According to Demos, a non-partisan think tank, voter identification and other requirements passed by the Senate Republicans this year have cost other states dearly; Indiana has spent  $12.2 million enforcing it’s voter ID laws over the past four years, while Missouri has estimated its costs at "$6 million for the first year and $4 million per year thereafter."

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