Gov. Northam signs bills that expand access to voting in the Commonwealth

Gov. Northam signs bills that expand access to voting in the Commonwealth
“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” said Governor Northam. (Source: WVIR)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Sunday, Governor Ralph Northam signed new laws that repeal Virginia’s voter ID law, make Election Day a state holiday in Virginia, and expand access to early voting.

Former Vice President Joe Biden provided a statement on the expansion.

“I commend Virginia’s leaders for taking these important steps to expand access to voting in the Commonwealth. Voting is at the very heart of who we are as a society and there is no more important duty for us as Americans," Biden stated. “All state and federal officials should work to protect and expand the right to vote so that every American can safely cast their ballot in November.”

Governor Northam signed the following bills:

  • House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 111, allows early voting 45 days prior to an election without a stated excuse. Virginia currently requires voters who wish to vote absentee, provide the state with a reason, from a specific list, why they can’t vote on Election Day.
  • House Bill 19 and Senate Bill 65, remove the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot. Voter ID laws disenfranchise individuals who may not have access to photo identification and disproportionately impact low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities.
  • House Bill 108 and Senate Bill 601, make Election Day a state holiday, which will help ensure every Virginian has the time and opportunity to cast their ballot. In order to maintain the same number of state holidays, this measure repeals the current Lee-Jackson Day holiday, established over 100 years ago to honor Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
  • House Bill 235 and Senate Bill 219, implement automatic voter registration for individuals accessing service at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office or the DMV website.
  • House Bill 1678, extends in-person polling hours from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

“Voting is a fundamental right, and these new laws strengthen our democracy by making it easier to cast a ballot, not harder,” said Governor Northam. “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.”

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