Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced earlier this week that he is backing legislation that would repeal voter photo identification requirements and institute “no-excuse” absentee voting.
The move fits part of a wider nationwide push by Democrats to liberalize voting laws under the banner of increasing voter access.
Northam’s legislative package also includes proposed changes in campaign finance laws that would would ban corporate contributions and set a limit to the amount that individuals can give to a candidate, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“Participation makes our democracy strong — we should encourage every eligible voter to exercise this fundamental right, rather than creating unnecessary barriers that make getting to the ballot box difficult,” said Northam, who took office in January 2018.
“I am also hopeful we will be successful working together this session to increase the transparency of our elections for Virginians by imposing reasonable limitations on campaign contributions,” he added in the release.
According to the news release, Democrat Del. Kaye Kory will be introducing a bill to repeal Virginia’s current voter photo ID requirements as part of Northam’s legislative package.
“Voting is the constitutional right of every American citizen. Lawmakers should be working to increase access to the voting booth, not inventing ways to keep voters away from the polls,” Kory said in the release.
“The photo ID requirement prevents the most vulnerable Virginians from voting and silences the voices of those who most need to be heard.”
Northam also seeks to institute no-excuse absentee voting, which would in effect create a mail-in voting option for anyone in the commonwealth.
Current Virginia law requires those applying for an absentee ballot to fall within certain criteria, such as attending college, traveling or residing outside the state, or disability or illness.
Northam also wants to implement a $10,000 campaign contribution limit per candidate per election cycle.
According to the governor’s office, 39 other states and the federal government set limits on how much an individual can contribute.
At the federal level during the 2018 cycle, an individual could contribute $2,700 in primary and general elections, or $5,400 total.
“There’s too much big money in politics,” Virginia Democratic state Sen. Chap Petersen said in the release. “We need some reasonable limits on what people can contribute in order to keep the process honest.”
The Virginia legislature is narrowly controlled by Republicans in both the Senate and House of Delegates.
The Associated Press reported proposals similar to Northam’s have been offered and defeated in past years.
The governor’s voting access agenda is part of a nationwide push by left-leaning politicians to liberalize the nation’s voting laws.
California is often pointed to as a gold standard in this effort.
Its secretary of state, Democrat Alex Padilla, lauded changes in the state’s voting laws, which contributed to his party now controlling 46 of 53 congressional seats following the 2018 midterms.
“In California, we believe in an inclusive and accessible democracy,” Padilla proclaimed in November, after the midterm elections. “We provide voters as many opportunities as possible to cast their ballots. That is why we have no-excuse vote by mail, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and early voting. These reforms helped drive California’s historic registration and a 30 year high in midterm turnout.”
The liberal voting rights group iVote is seeking to institute the types of changes Padilla lauded in all 50 states.
iVote notched some wins during 2018 midterms by spending millions of dollars in support Democratic candidates for secretary of state in key swing states including Arizona, Colorado and Michigan, which all flipped from red to blue.
“In all, iVote ran campaigns that spent $16 million to stop voter suppression in four key swing states, and won each campaign,” the group said in a release. “iVote’s strategic investments in 2018 to elect pro-voting Secretaries of States and approve (automatic voting registration) in key swing states that will be critical to the 2020 presidential race will level the playing field for Democrats in the next election.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.