Virginia State Board of Elections Proposes Changes to Voter Registration Form

Del. Peace questions changes to regulations removing currently required inquiries on citizenship or felony convictions Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) announced his concern that Virginia’s Secretary of Administration and the State Department of Elections are proposing regulations to overhaul the voter registration form. "What they are proposing may violate the Virginia Constitution, and go against the Code of Virginia," said Del. Peace.

The Constitution of Virginia, Article 2, Section 2 states very clearly:

“Applications to register shall require the applicant to provide the following information on a standard form: full name; date of birth; residence address; social security number, if any; whether the applicant is presently a United States citizen; and such additional information as may be required by law. All applications to register shall be completed by or at the direction of the applicant and signed by the applicant, unless physically disabled. No fee shall be charged to the applicant incident to an application to register….and whether the applicant has ever been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or convicted of a felony, and if so, under what circumstances the applicant's right to vote has been restored."

The McAuliffe Administration's proposed changes announced by the Virginia State Board of Elections would allow people registering to vote to skip questions on their citizenship or felony convictions.

Speaking to the proposal, Peace asserted, “If implemented, these changes could of course make it easier to commit voter fraud, and would substantially undermine bills passed in recent years to address voting by felons, residents of other states, and photo ID. This proposal would never pass our House of Delegates, which may explain why it is being brought administratively through the State Board.”

Local registrars have reviewed the proposed changes to the application and the regulations. The greatest concerns expressed by the Voter Registration Association of Virginia (VRAV) Region 3 registrars, which includes Hanover, King William, and New Kent, were about the proposed regulations which set forth what would be considered a material omission from the application and what would be considered an immaterial omission.

VRAV Region 3 noted that §24.2-418 of the Code of Virginia mandates that a voter provide certain information in order to register to vote. However, the proposed regulations counter those specific mandates in several instances. The group feels and strongly urges that the regulations be revisited and revised to be in accordance with the specific mandates of the Code of Virginia.