RICHMOND-HB 9, one of many voter suppression bills this General Assembly session, passed the Virgina House of Delegates today. Virginia Organizing gave the following statement on HB 9 and similar bills making their way through the legislature:
“As an 72 year old black Virginian, I am saddened to see the House of Delegates supporting this kind of voter suppression. Every adult in my family paid poll taxes for the 'privilege' of voting in this democratic country,” said Janice Jay Johnson, Board Member of Virginia Organizing. "It is disgraceful that our legislators would again trample the voting rights of a portion our state's population. In the year of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, our legislators should be giving us reason to celebrate how far Virginia has come. Instead they are moving us backwards.”
HB9 forces voters—who would otherwise be able to sign a sworn statement if they lack ID—to vote provisionally. Forcing voters to cast provisional ballots, significantly increases the likelihood that their votes will not be counted, even if they are valid, registered voters. In 2004, the first year after the Help America Votes Act, the Election Assistance Commission reported that 36% of provisional ballots cast nationwide were not counted. In 2006, over 50% of Virginia’s provisional ballots were not counted.