RICHMOND – State officials agreed Thursday to honor the Republican Party of Virginia’s request to remove a requirement that voters sign a “loyalty oath” before voting in the March 1 presidential prima
RICHMOND – State officials agreed Thursday to honor the Republican Party of Virginia’s request to remove a requirement that voters sign a “loyalty oath” before voting in the March 1 presidential primary.
The State Board of Elections voted 2-0 to remove the requirement despite objections from the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Much as we decry and dispute the original decision to implement an affirmation requirement, simply said, two wrongs don’t make a right,” Hope Amezquita, staff attorney and legislative counsel at ACLU-VA, told the board.
The ACLU initially opposed the requirement that voters in the GOP primary sign a statement that “I am a Republican.” However, now that the pledge has been in place for absentee voters, removing it would be illegal, Amezquita said.
“The Republican Party is before this board asking to have a voter requirement rescinded after an election has begun and ballots have been cast,” Amezquita said. “Voters have a constitutional right to experience the election process uniformly and equally. If there is an affirmation requirement, it must be equally applicable to all voters regardless of when they vote.”
According to the State Board of Elections, more than 1,300 absentee ballots have already been cast.
Meanwhile, in the General Assembly, Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, has proposed a bill to make it illegal for parties to require voters to “sign any pledge” when voting in a primary. His measure, Senate Bill 686, is currently before the Senate. The bill cleared the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee on an 11-1 vote Tuesday.
Committee members voting for the bill were Republican Sens. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Winchester, Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg, Ben Chafin of Lebanon, Bill DeSteph of Virginia Beach, Amanda Chase of Midlothian and Glen Sturtevant of Midlothian, as well as Democratic Sens. Janet Howell of Reston, John Edwards of Roanoke, Donald McEachin of Richmond, John Miller of Newport News and Adam Ebbin of Alexandria.
Voting against SB 686 was Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County. Sen. Thomas Garrett, R-Hadensville, abstained.