In their ongoing attempts to place Virginia as the most backwards state in the country, Republican Party lawmakers Sen. Mark Obenshain and Del.s Rob Bell and Mark Cole will be introducing new voting requirements in the General Assembly.
Del. Bell will be sponsoring a voter requirement bill that will prohibit the votes of Virginians who do not present a government-issued photo ID to vote and show proof of Virginia citizenship to obtain an ID. In a pang of graciousness, Bell’s bill would provide these documents at no cost to eligible voters who cannot afford them. Also notice has government has become the ‘good guy’ when it serves Republican Party ends.
And the ends that the Republican Party of Virginia appears to be shooting for is stripping the vote from minorities and economically disadvantaged eligible voters in Virginia, voters who are likely to vote for Democratic Party candidates and thereby erode the political power of the GOP in Virginia.
According to Del. Bell (Albemarle County), “Everyone who’s eligible should vote on Election Day, but it’s important that we only count the ballots of citizens who have the right to vote.”
Indeed, there aren’t many Virginians who wouldn’t want to see eligible voters vote. But why, all of a sudden, has there been such a heavy focus on this issue of voter eligibility by members of the Republican Party?
One theory has it that as Republican Party power in Virginia has come under increasing threat, GOP strategists have shifted to curtail the influence of voters who vote disproportionately for the Democratic Party. And Virginia has been far from alone in terms of Republican Party attempts to strip the votes from traditionally non-GOP inclined voters.
The ultimate aim of politics and politicians is, on the whole, power. As such, when lawmakers begin focusing on an issue that seems to have little priority on the face of it, citizens should be wary that some political power play is afoot.
Virginia’s voting system may not have been perfect in the past but the current ensemble of Republican Party bills will do little if anything to improve the system. The only consequence that I can see is a quasi return to the Jim Crow past that still scars Virginia’s self-image.