There has been a lot of reporting on the GOP efforts to restrict voting rights since the 2008 election.  The GOP strategy is simple (and sometimes, as in Pennsylvania, explicit) – when people vote, Democrats win, and so the GOP wants lower turnout.  In Virginia, the vote-supressors had some success in strengthening Virignia’s voter identification requirement.  It is still not as onerous as requirements in other states (some of which were overturned and others are still being challenged in the courts).   There is no reason for Virginia voters to be intimidated – you just need to do a few things to make sure your vote is counted.  See the list below, which has links to the brand-new Virginia State Board of Elections website and information on how to volunteer to help promote and protect the vote.

  1. Register to Vote – if you are not registered, you must do so by October 15, 2012 – see here for more information on how to register.
  2. If you think you are already registered, check here.  For example, if you registered four years ago and moved, check here to see if you need to transfer your registration or re-register.
  3. Vote absentee if you qualify.  Virginia does not have “early voting” – to vote before the election, in person or absentee, you need to meet the statutory criteria, which include absence from your home jurisdiction for 11hours on election day.   Many Northern Virginians who work in DC qualify.  Here is the information and application – the ballot must be received (not postmarked) by election day, so if you think you will be out of town, vote now.  You can vote absentee/in person at your local registrar’s office or other locations up until November 6, 2012.
  4. Double check where you vote here – especially if you last voted in 2008, the polling place may have changed.  You want to be in the right place.
  5. Bring your identification to the polls, including:

• Virginia voter registration card

• Valid Virginia driver’s license

• Military ID

• Any Federal, Virginia state or local government-issued ID

• Employer issued photo ID card

• Concealed handgun permit

• Valid student ID issued by any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth of Virginia

• Current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the name and address of the voter

 Here are some more details from the SBE regarding acceptable ID.

        6.   Help promote and protect the vote.  You can sign up with Victory Counsel, here.  You do not need to be a Virginia lawyer, you can be a law student, and non-lawyers can also participate in the effort.  Training began last week and is ongoing, including a session this Saturday.  Sign up for more information.

For more information regarding other states, check out www.protectingthevote.org and www.gottavote.org.