New measures include repealing voter I.D. law and designating election day as a state holiday
It just got easier to vote in Virginia, as Governor Ralph Northam signed historic legislation to expand voting access on Sunday.
Among the laws passed under the governor include designating election day as a state holiday, repealing voter ID laws, and expanding early voting access. The laws aim to make the act of voting easy and accessible for all Virginians across the state.
“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” Governor Northam said in a public statement. “No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I’m proud to sign these bills into law."
I have signed legislation that repeals Virginia’s voter ID law, makes Election Day a state holiday, and expands access to early voting. Voting is a fundamental right––these laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder.https://t.co/Uvaocr1pHH— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 12, 2020
The governor signed a multitude of bills dealing with improving voting access for citizens statewide. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Designating election day as a state holiday, which ensures that citizens can have the time to exercise their right to vote as promised by the U.S. Constitution. To accommodate the number of annual holidays the law will replace Lee-Jackson Day, which celebrates Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The change is effective beginning in July 2020.
- Repealing the state's voter ID law, which requires proof of photo ID prior to filling out a ballot. Photo ID laws have historically made voting more difficult, particularly for communities of color and people with low-income.
- Expanding early access voting, allowing citizens to vote 45 days before an election. Before, citizens had to request an absentee ballot and state their reason for doing so, but now that will no longer be required.
In addition, citizens can now be registered to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and polling hours have been extended from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
You can view the full details of the legislation here.
What do you think about Virginia's new voting laws? Sound off in the comments!