Drawing comparisons to Jim Crow laws and poll taxes, about 300 people gathered on the Capitol lawn Tuesday to protest against a Virginia voter identification bill that they said would ultimately disenfranchise poor and minority voters.
The bill—which easily passed through the House of Delegates—would force voters who forget to bring their IDs to the polls to fill out a provisional ballot which election officials could later say is invalid if the person can’t prove his identity.
Under current rules, voter who don’t have an ID sign an oath that is punishable by perjury declaring that they are indeed the registered voter on record.
“What kind of governor, what kind of lieutenant governor, what kind of senator, what kind of delegate would lynch democracy?” Benjamin Chavis, former director of the NAACP, according to the The Washington Post.
The Legislative Black Caucus, said that minority and low-income seniors may not have access to transportation or the time to get back to a polling place to prove their identity, The Washington Examiner reported.
But Republicans say the bill is about preventing voter fraud, not disenfranchising minority voters. From the Examiner:
"Where's the empirical data that shows senior citizens and minorities carry an ID less than Caucasians or young Caucasians?" asked Del. Jackson Miller, R-Manassas. "If one person commits voter fraud in the commonwealth of Virginia, he disenfranchises everyone who has voted."
The AP said the vote is another example of a bitter partisan dispute in the Virginia General Assembly and noted that the Legislature’s all-white GOP majority favors the measure. The vote on the House floor fell along party lines Tuesday and a vote for final House passage is scheduled for today.
"We have before us in the General Assembly session an array of voter-suppression bills designed to render you voiceless in 2012, and it's no coincidence that this is happening in 2012," The AP reported Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton as saying. "There are those who are still angry that in 2008 Virginia decided to do the right thing," Locke said of President Barack Obama's victory, the first in Virginia for a Democrat running for president since 1964
* Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will deliver his sixth State of the State speech today at noon before a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly. His speech is expected to focus on job creation in the state and his legislative agenda.
* The Virginia Supreme Court refused Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit filed to invalidate the state’s controversial redistricting plan. The lawsuit, according to Ballot Access News, charges that the state constitution says the legislature needed to draw the U.S. House districts in 2011. The redistricting map was passed in 2012.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said he is appealing to the General Assembly to pass a bill with an emergency clause to move congressional primaries from June to August. Such a move would avoid problems if the district lines are not approved by the federal government within the short time remaining, The Virginian Pilot reported.
* The House of Delegates Tuesday gave preliminary approval to revoke Virginia’s one-handgun-per-month ban.
Republicans argued that new technology made the ban outdated while Democrats defended the ban, saying it decreased the number of Virginia-bought guns traced to out of state crimes, The Washington Examiner reports.
The ban was enacted in the mid-1990s when handguns purchased in Virginia were showing up at crime scenes along the East Coast.
*The Virginia House and Senate on Tuesday voted to ban mandatory project labor agreements on state funded construction projects, according to The Washington Times.
Proponents of the bill argue that the bill will help to protect the state’s right-to-work laws and create a fair contract bidding process.
The Senate voted on the bill along party lines with a 20-20 vote, with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling casting the tiebreaking vote.
*Things are looking good for Senator Ben Cardin’s reelection prospects. The Washington Post reports that the Democrat has 175 times as much campaign cash as his best-known Republican candidate.
A Post poll released this week shows that 47 percent of registered voters in the state approve of the job Cardin is doing in the Senate, while 20 percent disapprove and 33 percent have no opinion.
* The Washington Times reports that millionaire developer R. Donahue Peebles—who considered a run for D.C. mayor in 2010—says he might be willing to finance the recall efforts of Mayor Vincent Gray and council Chairman Kwame R. Brown.
“We’ve had black leadership in this city for years, yet we have one of the highest poverty rates in the country east of the Anacostia River, in one of the wealthiest regions in the country,” Peeves, who is considered to be one of the 10 wealthiest black Americans, told the Times. “It’s clear that African-American leadership is not changing that. Vince Gray being black is not helping anything. President Obama said government should help those who cannot help themselves.”
Petition signatures to recall the mayor and chairman can officially start being collected today.