Virginia Governor Ralph Northam just signed legislation that would drop voter ID requirements in the state.
Northam, a Democrat, claims that his move will expand access to voting.
Critics, however, worry that removing the requirement for voter ID will actually expand access too much.
Illegal immigrants and other people not eligible to vote could potentially head to the ballot box and jeopardize the legitimacy of elections, they argue.
Voter ID is not meant to be restrictive. It is meant to protect the integrity and authenticity of our election outcomes.
More details on Virginia’s new voting legislation below:
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the nation, Democrat politicians appear to be focused on partisan politics rather than uniting to fight against the virus.
Northam's move has been criticized as especially tone-deaf during an election year.
The Hill has more details on Northam's removal of the voter ID requirement:
Virginia will no longer require voters to show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot and the state will join a handful of states across the nation in making Election Day a state holiday, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Sunday.
Northam said he signed a series of bills aimed at expanding access to voting.
“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 Sunday. “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.”
Northam signed a bill replacing a state holiday, Lee-Jackson Day, that honored Confederate generals with a state holiday designated for Election Day.
He also signed a bill repealing Virginia’s voter ID law and a bill expanding access to early voting.
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.
At the same that Democratic governor Northam removed voting ID requirements, other Democrat leaders have been pushing for mail-in voting.
Again, observers are concerned that mail-by-vote efforts jeopardize election integrity by failing to verify that only eligible voters participate.
In many states, for example, dead citizens are still on the voter rolls and need to be removed.
Northam's move will make voter fraud more rampant in the state of Virgina, critics argue.
The legislation does more than simply remove the requirement for voter ID.
The new law also allows voters to be automatically registered to vote after filling out a form to drive at the Department of Motor Vehicles website.
Immigrants are able to drive legally in the United States, even if they haven't yet become a full-fledged citizen.
Local WTOP news has more details on what the legislation means for Virgina:
The bills he signed rescinded the previously existing voter ID law, made Election Day a state holiday and allowed residents to vote up to 45 days early without having an approved reason.
The release sent out Sunday by the governor’s office included a statement from Northam that said “these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder.”
Other elements of the legislation allows voters to automatically be registered to vote when filling out forms on the Department of Motor Vehicles website or in person at service centers; extends in-person poll hours by one hour on Election Day (to 8 p.m.) and expands absentee voting access.
Since Election Day will now be a state holiday, one previous holiday needed to be removed. Lee-Jackson Day, which honored Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, will be taken off the state’s calendar. Lee-Jackson Day was observed by Virginia in January.
Over Easter weekend, Northam signed multiple bills, including the decriminalization of marijuana.
He also signed a bill making abortion more accessible to citizens living in Virginia.
Instead of fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, he appears to be focused on passing radical partisan policies rather than protecting the lives and livelihoods of his constituents.