Governor Terry McAuliffe today vetoed House Bill 9, which would require Virginia general registrars to deny voter registration applications submitted by eligible Virginians. In a statement explaining his veto, the Governor said he opposes stripping registrars of their discretion when it comes to omissions from applications that are not material to determining whether the applicant is qualified to vote in the Commonwealth.
The Governor stressed the importance of making it easier for qualified Virginians to play a role in the election process, as well as his opposition to any efforts to erect barriers for eligible Virginia voters.
The Governor’s full veto statement is below:
March 23, 2016
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 9, which requires general registrars to deny voter registration applications submitted by eligible Virginians.
The Voting Rights Act expressly prohibits denying applications for omissions that are not material to determining voter eligibility. Under 52 U.S.C. § 10101(a)(2)(B), “[n]o person acting under color of law shall deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material to determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election.”
House Bill 9 would require the automatic denial of certain eligible Virginians and all applicants who fail to check a box indicating that she or he will be at least 18 years of age on or before the next general election. The checkbox is not material to determining whether the applicant meets the age requirements to register to vote because the applicant is already required to provide his or her date of birth.
Government works best when as many citizens have a voice in our democracy as possible. We should be seeking ways to make it easier for qualified Virginians to participate in elections, not disenfranchising them over technicalities.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.
Terence R. McAuliffe