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Over the years, Democrats have been adamant in removing most voter ID requirements.
Now that Virginia rests in the control of a blue House, Senate, and Governor, the state is moving quickly to vastly change voting procedures. Recently, Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, signed into law sweeping measures aimed at making the voting process “easier.”
What exactly does easier mean?
Expanding early voting and removing ID requirements at polling stations, just to name a few things.
In response to Virginia’s actions, President Trump tweeted the following:
CNN had this to report on Virginia's new legislation:
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday that he signed a series of new measures into law aimed at expanding access to voting in the commonwealth.
The new legislation will establish Election Day as a holiday, remove the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot and, expand early voting to be allowed 45 days before an election without a stated reason.
"Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder," Northam said in a statement. "No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard. I'm proud to sign these bills into law."
Several states and cities have already made Election Day a civic holiday, including Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky and New York. State offices typically close, though it depends on the state whether employees are entitled to paid time off to vote.
Proponents say making Election Day a holiday could improve voter turnout. But Election Day may not become a federal holiday anytime soon -- it's drawn deep division along party lines.
In January 2019, Democrats proposed a sweeping bill that would make Election Day a national holiday among other measures. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the measure would pay government workers to "hang out at the polls during an election" or campaign for candidates.
The new legislation also repeals the current Lee-Jackson day holiday which honored Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson as "defenders of causes." Both men owned slaves and fought to preserve slavery in the US.
The holiday is typically observed with Civil War-themed parades, wreath layings and reenactments hosted by Confederate memorial groups, though these celebrations are increasingly unpopular. Defenders of the holiday say it honors Virginia history.
Users were quick to react on Twitter:
Of particular interest is exactly how the lack of ID process will work out in Virginia. Most would think any lack of identification at the polls would introduce the opportunity for voter fraud.
The Hill has more to say on the matter:
The new bill allows for early voting 45 days prior to an election without a stated excuse; Virginia previously required absentee voters to provide the state with a reason from an approved list.
Another bill extends in-person polling hours by one hour, keeping polls open until 8 p.m. rather than 7 p.m.
All the measures passed earlier this year in the Democratic-controlled legislature.
Democrats won control of both the state Senate and House of Delegates in the 2019 elections.
The new laws were lauded by top Democrats in the state legislature.
“We need more access to the ballot box, not less,” state Sen. Louise Lucas (D) said in a statement. “I am so proud to be a part of new laws that expand access to voting and make our Commonwealth more representative of the people we serve. Today is a historic day.”