Northam vetoes legislation, believes it threatens voter eligibility

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam (D) vetoed House Bill 1167 of Monday because he believes that it would threaten and prevent voters from casting ballots.

The House Bill 1167 was passed by the Virginia House of Delegates on March 1, 59 to 42. Virginia’s Senate passed the bill 21 to 19 on February 26.

So why does Northam believe that this would threaten voter eligibility? Well, because it would. But the disagreement lies as to if that is for the good of Virginia’s voting system, by keeping track of changes through more information, or unfairly limits who and how people could vote.

Essentially, the bill would use jury commissioners information, which is used to determine who is or is not illegible to serve as jurors, and use it to perform list maintenance for voter list kept by city and county officials across Virginia.

A person not being a U.S. citizen, a person no longer being a resident of Virginia, a Virginian being a resident of a different area of the Commonwealth and a person having been convicted of a felony, is the information which would be provided to localities. The bill would also require that this information be used to identify voters who are no longer qualified to vote at all, or in the area in which they live.

“There is no evidence or data that jury information is a reliable source for voter list maintenance. Relying on jury information to maintain our lists could weaken the veracity of our voter rolls and thus our elections. Furthermore, this unreliable information could endanger the registrations of eligible voters and prevent them from successfully casting a ballot,” said Northam in a media release.

The vote in the House and Senate was mostly partisan with very little support for the bill from Democrat lawmakers in the House of Delegates. Not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted against the legislation. No Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the bill.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, there are a variety of ways that states across the nation control and validate voting list.

The organization’s website, in 2013, Kansas passed similar legislation to that being debated in Virginia. Texas uses a variation involving its secretary of state as well.

Virginia’s Dave A. Larock (R), of House District 33, was the Delegate who introduced the bill.