‘No matter who you are or where you live in Virginia, your voice deserves to be heard…’
“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 on 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,” he said.
The package of bills Northam signed over the weekend also replace a state holiday, Lee–Jackson Day, which honored the Confederate generals, with a state holiday specifically designated for Election Day. And it extends polling hours by one hour, and allows for early voting 45 days prior to an election.
It followed his Friday signing two of the most controversial bills in the state’s new radical leftist agenda: one curtailing gun rights and the other expanding abortion access.
The proposals had previously drawn thousands of protesters to the state capital of Richmond. However, Northam cleared the full slate less than two weeks after issuing stay-at-home orders that prevented further protests.
Although critics argued that the ballot-box changes were part of a brazen effort to secure permanent majorities for their party in the longtime swing state, Virginia Democrats defended the rolled-back restrictions as an opportunity expand voting access.
“We need more access to the ballot box, not less,” state Sen. Louise Lucas said in a statement. “I am so proud to be a part of new laws that expand access to voting and make our Commonwealth more representative of the people we serve. Today is a historic day.”
Democrats have long argued against the need for voter identification by claiming such requirements disproportionately suppress minority votes. A 2017 study, however, found that there is “no definitive relationship” between tough laws requiring identification at the polls and a drop-off in Hispanic, black, and other minority turnout.
Indeed, studies that suggest otherwise typically rely on inaccuracies and errors, according to political science professors Eitan Hersh of Yale University, Marc Meredith of the University of Pennsylvania, and Justin Grimmer and Clayton All of Stanford University.
Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, which advocates voter ID laws and investigates voter fraud, said leftist activists and academics “have been searching for the silver bullet to prove voter ID is harmful to minorities,” but have yet to find one.
There is no “causal link between voter ID and intentional decreases in minority turnout,” Churchwell told the Daily Caller, but there is a link between a lack of voter identification and voter fraud.