Friday, February 3, 2017

VA House Passes Bill to Require Proof of Citizenship to Vote in State, Local Elections

Legislation to require Proof of U.S. Citizenship before Registering to Vote in Virginia Elections passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates on Wednesday on a 64-33 vote along Party lines. The Bill is House Bill 1598.

Echoing President Trump’s claim, made without evidence, that millions of people in the Country illegally have made it onto the Voter Rolls, the GOP-sponsored Bill would apply to State and Local Elections because Citizenship Tests are not allowed in Federal Elections.

Citizenship could be proved with a Birth Certificate, Passport, Naturalization document or other record accepted under Federal Law. Anyone Registered to Vote as of Jan. 1st, 2018, would not have to prove their Citizenship.

“You may be aware that there have been cases of non-citizens either inadvertently or intentionally registering to vote in the commonwealth,” Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, the Bill’s sponsor, said on the floor this week. “This was designed to prevent that.”

Federal Courts have ruled that States cannot add Proof of Citizenship on Federal Voter Registration forms. Cole said Courts have not ruled on whether States can enact those requirements solely to Register for State and Local Elections.

A Conservative Legal Group, the Public Interest Legal Foundation, claimed in a report last year that it had found more than 1,000 Cases of Non-Citizens on Virginia’s Voter Rolls and would likely find more with better access to Election Records.

Democratic Lawmakers and some Election Officials cast doubt on the Report’s Accuracy, saying the Group had misinterpreted the data and that many of the Cases may involve Citizens who erred on their paperwork.

If the Bill passes the Senate, it would almost certainly be Vetoed by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has emphasized Voting accessibility and this year called for repealing the State’s Voter Photo ID Law.

House Democrats opposed the measure, calling it an onerous restriction that would force Virginians to dig up paperwork that many don’t have readily available. Critics also questioned the notion that people in the Country Illegally would put themselves at risk to Vote.

“I think committing a felony to vote in an election is something that no non-citizen in their right mind would do,” said Del Mark. D. Sickles, D-Fairfax.

Others questioned how the requirement would work in practice if some Voters were Registered only to Vote for Federal Offices, which are often on the same ballot as state and Local races.

This is the problem in Kansas:

A State Court has ordered an immediate halt to Kansas’ Dual Voter Registration system, meaning thousands of Kansans will have their votes counted for Federal, State, and Local Elections in the 2016 August Primary and November General Elections.

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the Dual System, which allows some Kansans to vote for Federal Offices, without Citizenship papers, but not State and Local Offices, due solely to their method of Registration. Secretary of State Kris Kobach recently pushed a temporary Regulation through the State Administrative Board, aimed at formalizing this system; the ACLU was in Court asking it be blocked. Judge Larry Hendricks agreed in a Ruling issued orally from the Bench.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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