This afternoon, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee will meet to consider proposals concerning voting rights. The committee will meet shortly after the full Senate adjourns, which could mean as early as 1:00. You can observe the hearing, and sign up to offer comment, here.
In both the House of Delegates and the Senate this year, the legislature will be considering many changes to Virginia’s voting laws, including some proposals to repeal changes that were made in recent years. Because many of those recent changes strengthened the ability of voters with disabilities to be able to vote safely and independently, dLCV will monitor these proposals closely. Some of the proposals being considered would benefit people with disabilities, and we will monitor those as well.
Some voting bills of interest include:
- 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.
- 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 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 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.
- 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.
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 email@example.com or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.