RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Republican-led House of Delegates passed several bills Thursday to tighten voting laws in Virginia.
Delegates voted along party lines Thursday to ban ballot drop boxes and shorten the period for voting early in person to two weeks, mainly symbolic votes as both bills will likely meet a swift end in the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate.
Democrats have used their majority in the state Senate to block past efforts from Republican state lawmakers to overhaul Virginia’s voting rules.
“These bills are just the latest attempt by MAGA Republicans to roll back voting rights – making it harder for people to vote, and weakening our democracy,” House Minority Leader Don Scott (D-Portsmouth) said in a statement after the bills passed.
Just last week, the Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee rejected Republican bills to require voters to show a photo ID to cast a ballot, cut the 45-day window for early in-person voting down to seven days and stop the use of ballot drop-off locations for absentee ballots.
When Democrats controlled the state government, Virginia repealed its voter photo ID law, made ballot drop-off boxes permanent, opened up 45 days of no-excuse absentee voting and passed its own voting rights act — a first in the South.
With these rules in place in 2021, Gov. Glenn Youngkin won with more votes than any other gubernatorial candidate in Virginia’s history, and Republicans grabbed a 52-48 majority in the House of Delegates.
“We went from the second hardest state to vote into the eleventh easiest. That’s because of intentional reforms that we made in response to the voters,” Del. Cia Price (D-Newport News) said on the House floor Wednesday. “What’s really interesting about these bills that try to roll back the progress we’ve made is that every single voter benefits on both sides of the aisle.”