Senate Bill #1 - Voter Discrimination
January 12, 2012
On Tuesday, State Senator Steve Martin told CBS 6 the requirement in his bill, SB 1 (the very first bill prefiled in the Senate), that voter registration cards no longer be an acceptable form of identification when voting, was a "mistake." But Sen. Martin introduced virtually identical language in 2010 and 2011, and pulled much of the legislative language from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He's one of ALEC's two Virginia state chairmen and has spent over $22,000 dollars in taxpayer money traveling around to their conferences to meet with corporate lobbyists behind closed doors.
Progressive Point: State Senator Martin proposing legislation to make it harder for Virginia's elderly, low-income residents, and minority voters to participate in our Commonwealth's democratic process is not something that can be dismissed as merely a simple "mistake." And it is far more than a mistake considering this is the 3rd year in a row he has introduced this discriminatory language.
Our representatives should be encouraging our communities to vote and be engaged in our elections as diversity enriches us all. Bringing back regressive legislation to Virginia would be a sorry step backwards for our Commonwealth, and it has no place in Richmond.
Get the Facts:
- Kent Willis, the executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, called Sen. Martin's bill "a clear violation of voter rights," and "any kind of restrictions you impose on ID disproportionately affect the elderly, low-income residents and racial minorities." (CBS 6, January 10, 2012)
- At the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus's press conference on Wednesday, Sen. Yvonne Miller stated that the bill would take Virginia "back to the bad old days when there was a very small electorate, when only men could vote and only white men who owned property could vote." (Virginian-Pilot, January 11, 2012)
- Sen. Mamie Locke describes the bill as an "effort to suppress the vote," and Sen. Donald McEachin stated, "These are solutions looking for problems. There is no problem with voter fraud in Virginia." (Richmond Times Dispatch, January 11, 2012)