The disAbility Law Center of Virginia supports the rights of individuals with disabilities to be able to vote in a manner that is accessible and easily available. We promote more accessible polling places and better options for early and mail-in voting to enable as many to be able to vote as want to.
We remind voters in the 4th Congressional district (Richmond and some surrounding communities) that the special election to fill the seat of the late Congressman Donald McEachin will be this coming Tuesday, February 21st. Please contact us immediately if you have any difficulty accessing your polling place!
The bills that caused the most concern for the disability community have all been defeated. One bill that will be helpful to the community has passed. Here is the status of the many bills that would have impacted the rights of people with disabilities to vote:
Voter Identification Requirements – All efforts to require stricter means of proving identity before voting have been defeated. Strict voter ID laws can pose an obstacle to people with disabilities who do not have a driver’s license.
Photo ID bills were defeated in the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections. SB 794 and SB 900 (both from McDougle) and SB 968 (Peake) would have required a photo ID to be able to vote. HB 1444 (Ware), requiring a photo ID to be able to vote, was approved by the House but was defeated in the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections. A similar bill, HB 1467 (Wyatt) never made it out of the House.
All efforts to limit early voting have been defeated. The ability to vote early is important to those who work in hourly wage jobs and who are unable to have time off on election days.
HB 1877 (Scott) limited early voting to 14 days before the election. It was approved in the House but was defeated in Senate Privileges and Elections, as was the Senate equivalent, SB 880 (McDougle).
HB 1948 (Bloxom) removes the requirement for a witness signature on a mail-in ballot to be replaced with the last four digits of the voter’s social security number or a unique identifier issued by the registrar. This positive bill was approved by the House and by the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections. It now moves to the full Senate.
The House did pass legislation that would remove the option of having drop-boxes for absentee ballots. However, the bill HB 1693 (McGuire) was defeated in the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections.
HB 2049 (Bennett-Parker) proposed to limit curbside voting to those whose disability prevents them from entering the polling place but expands the definition of disability to include any permanent or temporary disability. (Under current law, the disability is limited to a permanent or temporary physical disability.) This good bill was defeated in the House Committee on Privileges and Elections.
The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is available to educate policymakers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. Please let us know of any issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.