Senate Privileges and Elections Committee Kills Most House Elections Reforms Bills

Person voting in poll booth

As expected, the Senate Privileges and Elections killed several elections reforms bills from the House of Delegates. Some of the bills the committee killed would have eliminated drop-off locations for ballots, eliminated same-day voter registration, and required absentee ballots to be received before polls close on Election Day.

Delegate Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) sponsored HB 46, which would have reintroduced a photo identification requirement, repealed the permanent absentee voter list, shortened early voting, and required representatives from each political party to verify the absentee ballot cure process.

“About photo ID, there is wide public polling that shows that support for [photo id] this crosses every demographic group, every partisan group,” Ware said.

He quoted former President Jimmy Carter, who chaired a 2005 commission on federal election reform: “The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters. Photo IDs currently are need to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important.”

“Thank you for the presentation and the reminder,” Committee Chair Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) said, noting that the committee had already killed similar bills SB 127 and SB 168.

The committee passed some House bills, including House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore’s (R-Gate City) HB 895 requiring risk-limiting audits to be conducted in randomly selected races, after the election and before certification.

“A ‘risk-limiting audit’ requires a hand count of randomly sampled printed ballots that continues until there is either strong statistical evidence that the reported outcome is correct or, in the absence of such evidence, a full hand count of all ballots cast in the contested race that determines the outcome,” the legislation explains.

The bill is identical to Senator John Bell’s (D-Loudoun) SB 370, which passed out of the Senate unanimously.

“We’ve come too far expanding access to voting in Virginia to turn back now, going from the 49th to 12th easiest to vote,” Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) tweeted Tuesday. “Today, a slew of House GOP bills aiming to reverse that progress met the @VASenateDems brick wall!”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Election Day” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.


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