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Support the Simpler Voter Registration Form!

The Virginia State Board of Elections recently proposed an updated, simpler voter registration form.  Among other things, it still has a boxes to check to affirm that you are a US Citizen and have not been convicted of a felony without having your rights restored.  And when you sign it, you affirm that you are a citizen and not a felon who has not had his rights restored.  Certain people (Republicans) have raised a terrific fuss about this change, arguing that somehow it will allow felonious foreigners to vote.  It doesn’t change the law one bit.

All it does is prevent the rejection of  a voter application because an otherwise eligible voter failed to check a box.  If you forget to check one of these boxes, you get a letter denying your application, including a new form, and a form you can use to appeal (requiring a $10 fee).  I had a recent case where a voter thought her citizenship was being challenged and she would have to file an appeal (and pay) to prove her citizenship.  In fact, she just forgot to check a box.

The change isn’t a huge deal, but not requiring the box check isn’t a big deal either.  Some people just want to take every little step they can to make it harder for folks to vote, because the fewer Virginians vote, the more likely it is that Republicans will win.   Instead, let’s make it easier for qualified citizens to register, and not get frustrated by technicalities.  Submit your comments by AUGUST 3, 2015 to the State Board of elections here.

Also, here’s cross post of a DPVA Voter Protection Council blot post on the subject we did 10 days ago:

Proposed Updates to the Virginia Voter Registration Application 


By Georgina Cannan and Matthew Weinstein, Co-Chairs

The State Board of Elections has made some excellent proposed changes to the voter registration application, the draft of which was posted on the Town Hall website for public comment on June 15, 2015. The proposed changes to the application are an example of the commitment of the State Board and Department of Elections to promoting free and fair elections in Virginia. They would make it easier for Virginians to register to vote by clarifying some confusing language and reducing the number of material omissions that can be made in the application.Some of the most important proposed changes to the application reduce the likelihood that it will be thrown out based on the applicant’s confusion over inapplicable instructions or forgetfulness. It would do this by increasing the number of omissions classified as non-material to include: indication of eligibility for late registration or protected voter status, interest in serving as an officer of election, suffix, and witness signature. It would also add the option of “none” for social security number and middle initial and makes failure to fill out those sections not material if the “none” option is selected. Finally, the new form would add to the affirmation section statements confirming that the voter meets the Virginia voter registration requirements for citizenship, age, and residency and makes failure to check those boxes a non-material omission so long as the affirmation is signed.

The new application would also make it easier for voters who are homeless, protected, and have physical disabilities to register by providing clarifying instructions relating to the signature and including a mailing address.

Other changes in the form are related to the 2015 legislation replacing voter registration cards with correspondence confirming registration status and continuing improvements to online services.

The Voter Protection Council has posted a comment commending the work of the State Board and Department of Elections and encouraging them to make a further change by allowing applicants to write in their gender. Currently, the draft form lists makes gender identification optional, rather than mandatory. We agree with this change, especially since the federal registration forms do not require voters to select a gender. Since the draft forms make gender identity optional, we believe that the form should be changed so that voters can write in their gender. The form should read Gender: ___________ rather than provide a box to check.

The public comment period for the application is open through August 3, 2015 and we encourage you to visit and check out the new application for yourself. We’ve posted our comment letting the State Board know how much we appreciate the changes they’ve proposed and we encourage you to do the same! It’s important we make sure these changes are here to stay.