VA Election Bills Fell Short on Best Practices. They Were Vetoed

From EPEC Team Newsletter — Three election bills that would have narrowed voter-list maintenance deadlines and altered statutes covering voter-eligibility challenges met the end of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) veto pen Friday.

One can learn much in the veto statements about why.

Amid emerging best practices in voter list accuracy that Virginia and other states have undertaken in recent years to modernize voter list accuracy, the bills would have slowed those efforts.

The list of bills he signed and veto statements can be viewed here.

Take the proposed changes to voter list maintenance activities in SB 300, and its companion bill in the House of Delegates, HB 904.

Both would have narrowed the time frame for local and statewide election officials to check voter-registration eligibility data with other states, no small feat between their preparation for Virginia’s 45-day election cycles.

An earlier amendment “would have allowed a work group to properly study and make recommendations regarding voter registration and list maintenance.”

The amendments were rejected in the April 17th “Veto Session.”

The companion bill in the House of Delegates, HB 904, proposed a scoring method for voter-list maintenance decisions that election technology experts viewed as duplicative to existing scoring methods for voter-list maintenance decisions. It would have added more delays to voter-list maintenance activities with other states.

The Democrat-majority Assembly rejected similar amendments to streamline the procedures with an interagency task force to advise on database-sharing methods.

In his veto statement, Gov. Youngkin wrote:

As Virginia transitions to a new statewide voter registration system targeted for delivery next year, and given the fact there is a shared responsibility held not only by the Department of Elections but all the other entities within the Commonwealth that provide data, a workgroup to properly study these changes is necessary.

Another bill, SB 196, also covered voter registration practices and list maintenance data standards. It might have succeeded. But it also was snagged by partisan language to eliminate the voter-challenge process in elections.

Gov. Youngkin’s veto statements are a window into election officials’ work in Virginia to modernize voter database management practices.

Among the key pillars of National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) since it was enacted by Congress in 1993, “Motor Voter” compels registrars and state election officials to maintain accurate voting lists — and to make those records available to the public.

In an era of Big Data, more states are modernizing their list-maintenance procedures to meet their mandate. Yet the data about “Motor Voter” shows it enables noncitizens to be added to voter rolls through their local DMV.

They can be confused, even incentivized, into believing they can vote in federal and most state elections — which disenfranchises the civil rights of legal voters.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has introduced a Senate bill to amend the NVRA to require proof of U.S. citizenship to register an individual to vote in elections for Federal office. It now lists 16 co-sponsors.

In the U.S. House, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) introduced the “Safeguard American Voter Eligibility” (SAVE) act with 49 cosponsors (more reportedly joining), which requires proof of citizenship to register to vote in federal elections.

The SAVE act bills are becoming a partisan issue among progressive-left groups. They claim that requiring proof of citizenship can leave citizens who don’t have sufficient documentation disenfranchised, too.

But the bills provide methods for attesting citizenship beyond traditional documentation such as birth certificates and U.S. passports.

Citizen groups are also gearing up to educate more legislators and the public about the SAVE Act, and common-sense methods of ensuring only citizens can cast ballots that decide the direction of the country.

EPEC Team will be covering those efforts in detail.

For now, states can do more to modernize their databases for accurate lists, too.

As Gov. Youngkin’s statements explain, the three election bills fell short of modern best practices with voter-list database management. They were vetoed. #

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