Elections Have Consequences | Richmond Free Press


Elections have consequences.

We have already seen this with the rejection on November 2 by the voters of Richmond of the proposed development of a casino and a complex of 565 million dollars.

By rejecting the project, voters largely in the city’s predominantly white neighborhoods turned their backs on Richmond’s future and the thousands of jobs that would have been created by the construction and operation of the complex.

With their vote, they also thumbed their noses at what would have been a new source of revenue to help fund the city’s basic needs and contributions to nonprofits.

By their vote on November 2, Virginians are also likely to see an all-out attack on voting rights in the state by new Republican leaders, including Governor-elect Glenn A. Youngkin, who has pledged to step up ” electoral integrity “by crushing some of the historic progress Democrats have made over the past two years to give Virginians better access to the ballot box.

While on the campaign trail, Governor-elect Youngkin vowed to create an “Election Integrity Task Force” to ensure “free and fair elections” in the Commonwealth, to update the electoral rolls every year. months and conduct an audit of Virginia’s voting machines.

In his election night victory speech, he pledged to reinstate the requirement for photo ID to vote.

This provision of the law was eliminated by the Democrat-controlled legislature by dismantling the barriers to participation in our democracy. The change allowed voters to produce other pieces of ID – not just photo ID – in order to vote.

Democrats also changed the law so that Virginians can vote by mail without having to provide an excuse; extended advance voting in person to 45 days before polling day; made election day a public holiday; and, starting next year, opened the process so that someone can register and vote on the same day.

Many of the changes were led by members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, or VLBC, who noted that the state’s restrictive rules had long harmed communities of color, including African-American voters, as well as voters in low income.

Some experts also claim that the changes allowing early voting and the creation of additional drop-off points helped increase voter turnout in Virginia in the last two elections at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic could have reduced it.

We are gravely concerned about whether the newly elected attorney general of Virginia, Republican Jason S. Miyares, will adhere to and adequately implement Virginia’s new voting rights law, another important step in the future. ‘State which was championed by a member of VLBC, delegate Marcia “Cia” Award from Newport News.

The law was designed to put in place protections for voters in Virginia by prohibiting racial discrimination and voter intimidation. In addition to requiring that local election officials provide material in foreign languages ​​widely spoken in their locality, it requires election officials to obtain public approval or the approval of the state attorney general before changing their position. vote place.

In Richmond, ballots were printed in English and Spanish for the first time for the November 2 election. The city also increased the number of sites open for early voting after receiving complaints from residents about an initial shortage.

Virginia’s Voting Rights Act also gives individuals the power to sue voter suppression, and any civil penalties granted will go into a new voter education and awareness fund.

The passage of this law and other democratic voter protection measures in the General Assembly that were enacted by Democratic Gov. Ralph S. Northam was unprecedented.

By comparison, states that were under Republican control by Trump loyalists, such as Texas, Georgia, and Florida, have passed dozens of voter suppression laws, including measures that limit early voting and locations. ballots and reduce the number of polling stations. serving communities of color.

We don’t know what Virginia Attorney General Miyares will do, but we do know that as a member of the House of Delegates he voted against the Virginia Voting Rights Act, along with a majority of his fellow Republicans. They opposed it, citing the potential for electoral fraud.

Will Mr. Miyares stick to the new law and apply its provisions statewide? Or will he work with Governor-elect Youngkin and the House, which appears to be moving towards Republican control, to reverse historic changes to voting rights? Make a guess.

Elections have consequences.

A major warning flag was raised due to scheduled recounts in two House of Delegates races at Hampton Roads. Only a few hundred votes separate the two outgoing Democrats and their Republican challengers who now hold a slim lead.

If the Republicans win, the House will be under a GOP majority, 52 to 48. And GOP control of the house can prove to be a major stumbling block for a Virginia constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights. for criminals as soon as they finish their prison or their prison time.

This amendment was defended by Democratic Senator Mamie E. Locke of Hampton, a member of the VLBC, and was approved by the legislature in the 2021 session. However, it must be approved again by the General Assembly in 2022, then approved by voters in a statewide referendum before it can go into effect.

VLBC members have raised concerns that the constitutional amendment could be derailed by House Republicans, preventing thousands of Virginians from accessing the ballot box.

The right to vote is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. The GOP is trying to thwart what would be nothing less than the suppression of voters.

Elections have consequences. Virginians will face these consequences when the new year marks the return to Republican leadership at the Governor’s Mansion and on Capitol Hill.

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