For Immediate Release:
January 10, 2017
Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov
Governor McAuliffe Announces Proposals to Strengthen Virginia Ethics Reforms and Expand Voter Access
~Legislative package includes common sense campaign finance reform, repealing recently enacted voter-ID law, and expanding ballot access for all eligible Virginians~
RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today introduced a legislative package for the 2017 General Assembly session intended to build on the success his administration has achieved strengthening Virginia’s ethics reforms and expanding access at the polls. The package includes proposals that will ban the personal use of campaign funds by candidates, support the full repeal of Virginia’s unnecessary and restrictive photo voter-ID law, establish no-excuse in-person absentee voting and expand allowable absentee excuses to include child caregivers.
“Virginians have a right to expect a government that is as transparent, accountable and accessible to its citizens as possible,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at the announcement. “This year, I look forward to working with the General Assembly to build on our successes strengthening our ethics laws by banning the personal use of campaign funds. These donations should be used to inform the public, not to line the pockets of politicians.
“We should also work together to expand access to the ballot box by repealing our unnecessary and restrictive photo ID law and making it easier for Virginians to cast an absentee ballot. These reforms will make it easier for Virginians to have a say in their democracy and boost their confidence that politicians are working for the public good, not their own.”
“Loopholes and workarounds in our campaign finance laws are a disservice to the constituents we were elected to serve,” Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam said. “Virginians deserve to know that their representatives are held to the highest standards of ethics. I thank the Governor and the Integrity Commission for their work strengthening accountability through these commonsense reforms.”
“Anyone who has raised a child can attest to the fact that child care, paid for or not, is a full time job and that taking a child or multiple children to vote is not always possible for a parent or caregiver,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, discussing her push to include caregivers of children as eligible for absentee status. “Adding these conditions to the allowable absentee voting excuses is a commonsense reform that will eliminate barriers to the ballot-box and ultimately strengthen our democracy.”
The details of the Governor’s plan to strengthen ethics reforms and expand voter access are below:
Ban personal use of campaign funds:
The Governor announced legislation that would ensure campaign contributions cannot be used by political candidates and elected officials for personal use. This common-sense reform was one of several recommended by the Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government, and has been advanced in the General Assembly by Delegate Marcus Simon.
Support the full repeal of SB 1256, which placed a requirement for voters to show photo ID at the polls:
The Governor announced that he will support the full repeal of that law, so that we can go back to running free, open, and fair elections without making Virginians who want a voice in their own community jump through onerous hoops.
Establish no excuse in-person absentee voting:
The Governor announced legislation that permits any registered voter of the Commonwealth to vote absentee in-person beginning 21 days before an election until 5 p.m. on the Saturday before the election. The check-in procedures for in-person absentee voters will be identical to the procedures for voters on Election Day.
Expand the eligibility for Virginians to vote absentee:
The Governor announced legislation that will expand absentee excuses to people caring for children as well as caregivers that are not related to the person for whom they care. The legislation will also allow citizens who lack reliable transportation options to vote absentee, which will especially help elderly voters and voters in rural areas with no public transportation.