Voting legislation proposed in VA General Assembly

Posted at 7:04 PM, Jan 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-10 19:04:02-05

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- The General Assembly may only have 45 days to get things done this year, but many legislators are also paying close attention to another date.

That would be November 5, 2013, when all members are up for re-election.

So it should come as no surprise that voting legislation is being proposed by members of both parties.

"This is not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue, this is a people issue," Del. Onzlee Ware, D-Roanoke, said during a Democratic Press Conference discussing Voter Bills.

On the Republican side, Delegate Rob Bell, who is also a candidate for Attorney General, is proposing a bill that would require a government issued photo identification.

For people who can not afford one, it would be provided to them for free.

It would also repeal voter legislation passed last year recognizing a utility bill as a valid form of identification.

"There is video on the internet right now of a campaign operative describing how you can forge utility bills. We've got to stop that - you have to have a photo ID," Bell said.

That legislation is being criticized heavily by Democrats.

"I'm pretty sure all of us here are opposed to that," Delegate Mark Sickles said.

Democrats for their part are proposing several bills during the session that include extending voting rights to convicted felons of non-violent crimes.

Other bills include the ability for anyone to vote early and longer polling hours on election day.

"Early closing times create more congestion on our roads and longer lines," Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn. D-Fairfax, said. "Extending polling hours to 8 p.m. on election day would reduce lines."