Friday, July 31, 2015

Stop McAuliffe before Monday, 03 August!

Public comment will be accepted online through Aug3 at the state's regulatory reform site here: 
Comment Period Closes: 8/3/15

UPDATE / McAuliffe’s Elections Board may remove obstacles to non-citizens, felons voting

From: Sue Sherrill:
Making it easier for illegals and non-citizens to vote is not in the interest of AMERICA or Virginia!  Please let the State election board AND your representatives know you oppose these changes! We only have about a week to oppose this, so try to do it TODAY!  
 [If you need contact information for your Middle Peninsula representatives, look here ]

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Public comment will be accepted online through Aug3 at the state's regulatory reform site here: UPDATE / McAuliffe’s Elections Board may remove obstacles to non-citizens, felons voting

Please forward to your email lists ASAP and ask them to comment before 08-03-15>>>>>>>>>>>>> It doesn't matter if you are Republican or Democrat these changes WILL affect your vote.
As you know, Governor McAuliffe is about to take executive action, bypassing the legislature, to change voting procedures! McAuliffe’s Elections Board is poised to remove obstacles to non-citizens, and felons voting. Those opposed ( more than 100 people ) lined the walls of a large meeting room Tuesday for a standing-room-only public hearing. Many said Gov. Terry McAuliffe's is pushing a more calculated agenda through his appointed elections board. The board didn't vote on the issue Tuesday, and doesn't plan to until at least September. Public comment will be accepted online through Aug3 at the state's regulatory reform site here:
State Board of Elections, 2015 Voter Registration Application Regulation and Form Update:  

Click here to enter a comment     
Comment Period Closes: 8/3/15

And contact your Virginia Delegate and Senators to take a hard look at these regulations.  McAuliffe’s Elections Board can’t change the Virginia Code or rewrite the Virginia Constitution at a whim.

Is Terry McAuliffe "eradicating our electoral system?" 
GOP riles up protest over voter registration forms; registrars push back, too.

Daily Press, July 28, 2015:

MIDLOTHIAN – State Board of Elections members mulling a redesign of voter registration forms got an earful Tuesday from conservatives who feel the changes would make it easier for non-citizens to vote, and from registrars who voiced a longer list of concerns.
The biggest controversy stems from a proposal for check boxes on the current form, where registrants state whether they're citizens, whether they've got a felony record and whether they've been judged mentally incapacitated.
Instead of requiring people to check those boxes, the new form would make them optional. It would also beef up the form's "affirmation" – the statement just above where people sign – to include explicit mentions of all three requirements.
Proponents said it's all about make the form easier to understand. Currently, registrars reach out to people who don't check the boxes, asking them to fill the form out again and complete the boxes. If people don't do that, they're not registered to vote.
Those opposed to the change lined the walls of a large meeting room Tuesday for a standing-room-only public hearing. Many said Gov. Terry McAuliffe's is pushing a more calculated agenda through his appointed elections board.
Stan Corn, a Goochland County resident and the first to address the board Tuesday on the matter, said the form edit represents McAuliffe's first step "for eradicating our electoral system as we know it."
Those who followed gave a less dire analysis, but except for representatives from a few left-leaning advocacy groups, they were against the change. A number of registrars who process these forms called for the check boxes to remain mandatory. Several ticked off a laundry list of other problems with the new form, down to the proposed font.
Many of the more than 100 people who came to protest the change were motivated by state Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Louisa, who issued a call for people to attend the board meeting, which was held at hotel here in conjunction with training sessions for registrars from all over the state.
"If we let Terry McAuliffe have his way, illegal aliens will be able to vote just like you and me," Garrett said in his message, which was emailed around and posted to Facebook.
Edgardo Cortes, whom McAuliffe made Department of Elections commissioner last year, said the change is meant to help people who simply overlook the check boxes. The law doesn't change: People still must be citizens to vote, they're just affirming it in a slightly different way.
"It seems to us kind of silly to reject an eligible voter ... if they just leave a check box off, if they've already signed a document affirming it," Cortes said.
Registrars differed over whether this is a common problem. Cortes said it affects "a lot of folks," and Newport News Voter Registrar Vicki Lewis said she sees lots of unchecked forms.
Richmond Registrar is J. Kirk Showalter said it doesn't happen often. She gave the board a list of suggestions for the new form, and said the check boxes should remain mandatory.
"Voters don't read that statement," Showalter said.
Lewis said, shortly before the public comments began rolling in Tuesday, that she didn't have a strong opinion on the check boxes remaining mandatory.
The board didn't vote on the issue Tuesday, and doesn't plan to until at least September, Cortes said. Public comment will be accepted online through Aug3 at the state's regulatory reform site, Search "Proposed Voter Registration Application Regulation" for more information.
State law doesn't require people to prove citizenship when they register, and that won't change regardless of what the forms look like. Prospective voters must attest that they're legally qualified to vote, though, and lying is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
If the board does change the form, Garrett promised legislative action when the General Assembly goes into session next January, potentially undoing changes in time for the 2016 presidential elections. Every General Assembly seat is up, though, in elections this November.
Garrett, a former prosecutor, said changing the form would make foter fraud harder to prosecute, and he questioned the motivation for the change.
"I'm not telling you that … the floodgates will open," Garrett told the Daily Press, the language he used in his call to action notwithstanding.
"I'm just telling you that it's one step toward a system that makes it easier," he said. "Is there a block-checking epidemic that I'm not aware of? It's a solution in search of a problem."
That argument – that there is no problem to solve – is what Democrats often say about recent successful GOP efforts to require photo I.D. at the polls.
"We (Republicans) get told that all the time," Garrett said Tuesday.

McAuliffe’s Elections Board poised to remove obstacles to non-citizens, felons voting

The SBE will likely adopt a proposed change to voter registration forms that removes the constitutional requirement that the applicant indicate he/she is a U.S. citizen.
As we’ve previously highlighted with respect to the Department of Elections, what was once a non-partisan organization with a fair, middle-of-the-road approach acceptable to all sides is now little more than a thinly disguised partisan agent of the Governor, that purges those not on board with the program.  Some additional background:
1.  The new Commissioner of the Department of Elections is named Edgardo Cortes.  Cortes was the General Registrar of Fairfax County during the time that the Fairfax Democrats began to systematically push the envelope to ease restrictions on voting, particularly on provisional ballots.  He’s also the guy who terminated the whistleblower in the last Department of Elections scandal (scroll down to the 9:30 AM post here for more).
2.  Liz Howard is the Deputy Commissioner.  According to her bio on (“Emerge Virginia is the premier training program for Democratic women”), Howard is the former CFO for the Tennessee Democratic Party and past General Counsel of the not-non-partisan Rock the Vote.  Howard is in charge of briefing the State Board on the rules changes.
3.  Kristina Stoney is Senior Assistant Attorney General and Counsel to the State Board of Elections and the Department of Elections.  She is also the former “Protect the Vote” coordinator for the Democratic Party of Virginia, and is the wife of Levar “Slasher” Stoney, who was deputy campaign manager for Terry McAuliffe and is McAuliffe’s Secretary of State.
So yeah, it’s McAuliffe’s organization.
At issue are proposed changes to the voter registration form, which currently requires an applicant to affirmatively indicate (by checking designated boxes on the form) that they are U.S. citizens, have not been adjudicated to be mentally incapacitated, and are not convicted felons whose voting rights have not been restored. Under current regulations, failure to check these boxes constitutes a material omission, requiring the application to be rejected.
Ostensibly because they believe this to be too much of a barrier to participation, McAuliffe’s appointees have proposed new regulations pursuant to which “a voter registration application may not be denied for failure to include” the checked boxes (emphasis mine). Instead, the new form would simply have an affirmation in the fine print at the bottom indicating that by signing, the applicant affirms eligibility to vote. The Board heard public comment on the issue at its meeting this morning in Richmond, and will likely vote on the matter at its next meeting on September 1. Public comment on the proposed regulatory change closes on August 3.
Democrats claim this is merely to streamline the process and that the required affirmation provides just as much protection against voter fraud as the current form.
This is wrong, and laughably so. Here’s how OFA, SEIU, and whatever other successor organizations of ACORN will use this:
ORGANIZER: “Hi, Maria. We’d like for you to register to vote so that together we can fight back against the malvados republicanos norteamericanos.”MARIA FROM EL SALVADOR: “Yo no soy un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos. No puedo marcar esa casilla.”ORGANIZER: “That’s OK, Maria, you’re not required to check that box. Just sign here, por favor.”
If you think that level of suspicion isn’t warranted, ask yourself why simply requiring a box to be checked is such a huge burden. We spoke with Sen. Tom Garrett (R-Buckingham), who has been out in front on this issue for weeks, and who testified vociferously at the State Board meeting this morning. He neatly encapsulates the absurdity of the Democrats’ claim that this is an unreasonable burden on voting:
“If checking boxes to indicate that you’re an American citizen, haven’t been adjudicated mentally incapacitated, and aren’t a convicted felon is too hard to do to exercise a constitutional right, why don’t we just take those things off applications to purchase a firearm, too?”  Sen. Tom Garrett
Whether you think the new rules are harmless, or if you think (as I do) that they’re purposefully designed to facilitate voting by those otherwise ineligible, our opinion is irrelevant. Why? Because the State Board of Elections would be clearly overstepping their authority under the Virginia Constitution and the relevant statute if they decide to adopt this blatantly partisan rules change.
The Constitution of Virginia requires a voter to affirmatively indicate U.S. citizenship.  Article II, Section 2:
Applications to register shall require the applicant to provide the following information on a standard form: full name; date of birth; residence address; social security number, if any; whether the applicant is presently a United States citizen; and such additional information as may be required by law. All applications to register shall be completed by or at the direction of the applicant and signed by the applicant, unless physically disabled.
The applicant must provide this information, it cannot be supplied by someone else and just signed, and it cannot be skipped.  It’s an affirmative constitutional requirement.  Further, the statute implementing this requirement is explicit that the form cannot be pre-populated, thus reinforcing the obligation of the applicant to affirmatively indicate citizenship, among other things.  Virginia Code Section 24.2-418 reads, in relevant part:
The form of the application to register shall require the applicant to provide the following information: full name; gender; date of birth; social security number, if any; whether the applicant is presently a United States citizen; address of residence in the precinct; place of last previous registration to vote; and whether the applicant has ever been adjudicated incapacitated or convicted of a felony, and if so, under what circumstances the applicant’s right to vote has been restored. The form shall contain a statement that whoever votes more than once in any election in the same or different jurisdictions shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. Unless directed by the applicant or as permitted in § 24.2-411.1 or 24.2-411.2, the registration application shall not be pre-populated with information the applicant is required to provide.
Elections have consequences.  This is what happens when you elect a guy like Terry McAuliffe, for whom politics is apparently the art of getting around or ignoring the rules.  This is why the vast majority of those persons submitting public comments about the proposed rules have opposed them. (The most entertaining comment, though, comes from DPVA; they naturally support the changes, but ask for an additional change to be made to allow gender to be a fill-in-the-blank answer instead of a checkbox).
We may not have the ability to stop this with the Democrat-dominated Board.  But if you want to give Republican Board Member Clara Belle Wheeler some support, you can contribute to the public comments on this proposed change by clicking here.  You can also appear to speak your mind at the Board’s next meeting on September 1, at 2:00 PM (location TBD).
Kudos to Sen. Garrett and to Del. Tim Hugo, among a number of members of the House of Delegates, for leading on this.  We’ll keep you updated as this issue unfolds.

The case against SBE’s changes to the voter registration form and regulations

Brian Schoeneman, Bearing Drift, July 28, 2015:
Today, the Virginia State Board of Elections is reviewing potential changes to the statewide voter registration form and the regulations under which the form is processed and approved.  Included in the changes are fundamental changes to the material omissions policies that are codified in Virginia law and that help to both prevent fraudulent voter registrations and to provide law enforcement with information they may need to prosecute registration fraud.
Delegate Tim Hugo, Senator Tom Garrett and a number of others have been sounding the alarm about these potential changes, and they have good reason to do so – not only do these regulatory changes conflict with the Virginia Constitution, the changes have been widely panned by the Registrar community in Virginia and they don’t really solve any serious problems.  These changes to the form appear to be a solution in search of a problem.
Here’s the existing form:
Here’s the new form:
At first glance, the changes appear minimal. And, generally speaking, they are. There’s still a box for marking off citizenship, still a box for social security numbers and the affirmation that the information is accurate under penalty of perjury. The form moves some things around, but overall, the same required boxes appear to be there.
No big deal, right?
But wait – there’s more.
Here are the proposed regulations that have been drafted to accompany the new form.
While the form itself has only changed slightly in format, these material omissions changes are very significant. One of the benefits of the old form is that it took a “do not pass go” approach if you couldn’t affirmatively answer one of the required questions. The new form is more nuanced. But what isn’t nuanced are the changes adopted in the regulatory package.
Here’s an example – on both the new and the old forms, it was made clear to voters that not checking the box indicating you are a U.S. citizen was a material omission that “may” result in the application being denied. That “may” itself, even though it’s on the old form, appears to fly in the face of the clear language of the Virginia Constitution, which requires in Article 2, Section 2 that the Commonwealth “shall require the applicant to provide the following information on a standard form: full name; date of birth; residence address; social security number, if any; whether the applicant is presently a United States citizen; and such additional information as may be required by law.” There’s no “may” about it – failure to include that information should be grounds for an automatic rejection, per the Constitution. And included in there is the statement regarding whether an applicant is presently a U.S. citizen.
However, under the proposed regulatory changes, the affirmative checking of the box indicating citizenship is not required, and ELECT goes one step further and states that no registrar may deny an applicant for failure to check the box if they’ve signed the form affirming they’re qualified to vote.
This may appear to be nitpicking, but it’s not – the Virginia Constitution requires you affirmatively state you are a citizen. That’s why the box exists on the application, and why it tells voters not checking the box may result in rejection of an application. It makes little sense to demand that from voters, tell them it could result in their application being rejected, and then turning around and tell registrars they can’t reject an application if the information is not included.
It’s much more difficult to prosecute voter registration fraud when voters aren’t required to make affirmative statements that can be contradicted by facts and used against potential fraudsters. Under the new regulations, a potential fraudster can ignore the box about citizenship, sign the form, and then claim later that they believed they met all the Virginia requirements and didn’t realize that not being a citizen wasn’t one of them – no prosecutor is going to take that case. But by having them affirmatively check a box indicating they are a citizen when they aren’t, that’s more solid evidence that the fraudster intended to violate the law and gives prosecutors more substantial evidence to use in a potential criminal action.
The same is true on the required Social Security Number – all a voter needs to do is mark “NONE” on the blank below the Social Security Number and under the proposed changes, Registrars can’t deny their application, even if it’s not true.  Despite that being a requirement in the Virginia Constitution, ELECT’s draft regulation appears to be signalling to voters how to get around the SSN requirement.   While I would support removing the SSN requirement at some point, that’s not what’s in the law now, and ELECT’s regulations fly in the face of the clear requirements in the Constitution.
The changes suggested to the form just don’t appear to be necessary, and the new regulations are wildly unpopular in the registration community. Here’s a few of the public comments made by Virginia Registrars about the new forms:
James City County General Registrar
Just because you don’t agree with a law doesn’t mean that you can write policy to eliminate it…. These changes would require a change in code, not a change in agency policy.

Montgomery County General Registrar
“Which intern developed this form……Plus, ELECT is supposed to follow the law and not do its best to get around it.

Caroline County General Registrar
I feel it is important to have the full SSN so that a person can be verified properly. Without verifying information you could end up with inaccurate information, duplicate voters, possible felons, etc. Our goal is always to have all voters registered accurately and properly and to accomplish that goal we need to have information for verification

Powatan County General Registrar
This form is a HOT MESS!

I’d like to piggy-back on all of the comments my brilliant colleagues have taken the time to detail below. PLEASE do not proceed with this proposed application without taking these points into thoughtful consideration. I feel that a “GR Work Group” is in needed to revise this draft.
**No SSN# needed…REALLY??? (shaking my head)

Accomack County General Registrar
If we are not going to require a person to mark that they are a citizen or not, give us a SS#, tell us whether they have been convicted of a felony or have been adjudicated, we will end up with a very large amount of non-citizen, adjudicated and felons on our Voter Registration rolls, because we are assuming they read the “Affirmation” before they signed.

Radford City General Registrar
This application, and the applicable regulation is an attempted end run around the Code. When the Code no longer requires these things, I’ll be on board.

Norfolk City General Registrar
Please remove “NONE” under Social Security Number. Most applicants have a SSN. This is a person’s unique identifier. By having this on the application it will create problems. People will not put their SSN on the application because they think it is not required or they are concerned about protecting their information and do not want to furnish. We see this now in local registrar offices. It should not be optional.

The directions are in conflict with state law.
Albermarle County General Registrar
Providing the option for “none” in lieu of a SSN is going to result in many individuals assuming SSN is optional and thus they may check the none box simply because they do not wish to provide a SSN. A FULL SSN should be required.

Notwithstanding these mandatory and unequivocal directives of the statute, the proposed regulation, in conjunction with the proposed new Virginia voter registration application form, would abandon each of these requirements. Accordingly, it seems to me that the proposed regulation would not withstand judicial scrutiny.
Manassas Park General Registrar
The new proposed instructions attempt to negate safeguards provided in the voter application….You can see the potential for voter fraud, abuse and mistakes. Furthermore, the omission of the SSN prohibits registrars from checking to see if the applicant is a convicted felon.

Northampton County General Registrar
NO because important identifying information can be left off the application.
NO because people can commit voter fraud easily, or maybe they are not intentionally fraudulent and maybe just forgot to check some boxes. But how will the GR determine that? Too many maybes.
NO because it will make many localities change their filing process and equipment.
NO, a big NO, because it does not have to be signed. A checked box is not an affirmation. Will a checked box hold up in court?
NO because this does not make the application process any easier for the honest applicant, but it does make it much easier for the fraudulent applicant.
NO because it contradicts 24.2-418 , and we are sworn to uphold the Code of Virginia.
Let’s go back to the drawing board on this one, please.

Westmoreland County General Registrar
voter registration appl.seriously? (shaking head in bewilderment…)

Fairfax County Deputy General Registrar
This form does not meet the requirements of common sense, much less the law. The General Assembly has mandated the requirements for the application and expects those requirement to be kept, or else the requirements would be changed.
Not exactly wild votes of confidence from the folks who have to administer these new regulations. And they seem as concerned with ELECT’s rewriting of the Virginia Constitution as I am.
What’s equally troubling about these changes is that we’re also seeing attacks on Virginia’s voter ID laws in the courts by the Democratic Party. Now that Democrats control the State Board of Elections and the Department of Elections, they have to expect that any changes they make to these regulations are going to be scrutinized heavily. The changes on these forms create the possibility that, if Virginia’s ID law is struck down, a non-citizen could register to vote, lie on his application, appear at a polling location and show his voter registration card as proof of identity, vote, and – in the unlikely event that his crime is discovered – prosecutors would have little to go on to prove that he intended to violate the law when he cast his ballot.
That’s the kind of thing that undermines public faith in the electoral process, and that’s why these kinds of changes need to be done in a much more open, collaborative and bipartisan way.
I hope that SBE takes a hard look at these regulations and recognizes that they can’t change the Virginia Code or the Virginia Constitution at a whim. The existing forms and existing regulations should remain in place until the case is made that we truly need to reform them.

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