Saturday, February 13, 2010

Del. Scott Surovell Speaks Out Against Voter Disenfranchisement

It's really a shame that in 2010 we are still having to deal with people who want to limit a person's right to vote. As Del. Scott Surovell pointed out on the floor of the House of Delegates and in a post on his blog the Dixie Pig, HB 498 is a bill that would disenfranchise large portions of our community here in Virginia.

The way current law is set up, a voter who doesn't have a state issued ID must sign an Affidavit of Identity and ten are allowed to vote. If HB 498 passes, then a person who doesn't have a state issued ID would have to attend the Electoral Board meeting after the election in order to prove why their vote should be counted. When you look at the fact that many of the people who don't have a state-issued ID don't have one due to some sort of hardship, it's extremely unlikely that they would be able to make two trips in order for their vote to be cast. Furthermore, as Scott points out, this added requirement would place an undue burden on several specific community groups.
I opposed this legislation because it disenfranchises people who do have have driver's licenses including the elderly, the poor, the blind, religious objectors, or even people who have simply lost their license. I also oppose it because I believe that any voting requirement that involves the payment of money amounts to a poll tax - a practice that the U.S. Supreme Court had to step in to stop in Virginia in 1966 in Harper v. State Board of Elections. For decades, the poll tax was used in Virginia to disenfranchise voters including my grandparents when they first moved here in 1935.
I would like to think that Virginia could move forward beyond it's Jim Crow past of having policy that places undue restrictions on a person's right to vote and I'm very pleased to see that Scott is working hard to make sure legal residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia have the right to participate in our political system. The video below is Scott addressing the bill while on the House floor.

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