Our View of the Legislature: Voting

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There are many bills moving through the House of Delegates that would seek to repeal election reforms that were enacted over the last year or two. Similar bills are being defeated in the Senate.  The House bills, if passed, will eventually go to the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections.

We expect that the House Committee on Privileges and Elections will consider many of these bills Friday morning at 8:30. Check here to confirm that agenda:

Many of the changes made in the last year or two strengthened the ability of voters with disabilities to be able to vote safely and independently.  Therefore, dLCV will monitor the efforts to repeal those protections.

Voting bills we are monitoring include:

HB 24 (Walker), HB 46 (Ware), SB 118 (Chase), SB 127 (Obenshein) and SB 168 (Peake) – would require a photo identification to be able to vote. Generally, photo ID requirements can disadvantage people with disabilities.  HB 46 was endorsed by a House subcommittee. The Senate bills have been defeated.

HB 35 (Campbell) would require someone to state a reason for needing to vote absentee. A voter with a disability would need to attest that they can not vote in person because of their disability.

HB 39 (Scott) limits early voting (absentee in person) to 14 days prior to the election. It was approved by a subcommittee in House Privileges and Elections.

HB 36 (Campbell) and SB 234 (Chase) would repeal the permanent absentee voter registration, which had made it so that someone with a permanent disability did not have to request an absentee ballot each election. The Senate bill was defeated in committee last week.

HB 149 (Runion) eliminates the need for a witness signature on absentee ballots. Assigned to House Privileges and Elections.

HB 974 (Simon) expands the definition of disability for those who may receive assistance in voting. Current law limits it to “physical” disability; the proposed legislation would allow it for any disability. This bill was requested by advocates for voters with autism. The bill was defeated in a House subcommittee.

SJ 1 (Locke) is a proposed constitutional amendment that would change how guardianship laws restrict the right to vote. Currently, under the constitution, a court must affirmatively grant the right to vote to someone under guardianship. The proposed amendment would reverse that, presuming a right to vote unless a court to specifically remove that right. SB 21 (Locke) seeks the same result through a voter referendum.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia’s mission is to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation. We are available to educate policy makers about the potential impact of legislative proposals and budgetary considerations. Please let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following.  Contact us at info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.