McAuliffe Vetoes Bill to Share Data About Voters Registered in Multiple States

Virginia governor has vetoed several bills intended to fight voter fraud

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) / Getty Images
March 21, 2017

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) vetoed a bill that would require the state Department of Elections to turn over information to local registrars about individuals who are registered to vote in multiple states simultaneously.

McAuliffe has vetoed a handful of bills in recent weeks intended to prevent voter fraud.

The bill, HB 2343, was introduced by Republican delegate Robert B. Bell and would have required the Department of Elections "to provide to the general registrars a list of registered voters who have been found through list comparisons and data-matching exchanges with other states to be registered in another state."

The bill passed the Virginia House on a 68-30 vote and the Senate on a 23-15 vote. McAuliffe's veto statement called said the bill would make "unnecessary changes to the election system that could improperly disenfranchise qualified Virginians."

"Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2343. Requiring the Department of Elections to provide lists of certain voters who may have moved to localities after the Department has conducted list maintenance activities in compliance with state and federal law increases the administrative burden on localities which are currently struggling with limited resources," his veto statement reads.

"By providing 133 individual general registrars with lists of certain voters and no clear instructions, this bill would invite confusion and increase the possibility of violating federal law. Moreover, it would expose eligible and properly registered Virginians to the risk of improper disenfranchisement."

Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, an Indiana-based group that litigates to protect election integrity, said McAuliffe's opposition to checking voter rolls across state lines amounts to "paranoia."

"This bill is quite straightforward: in cases where a person is registered in Virginia and another state simultaneously, Richmond and local officials would work together with the other state and the voter in question to determine which record should be kept active. The governor has a problem with that concept," Churchwell said in a statement.

"For years, leftist groups have declared that comparing voter roll data across state lines for maintenance purposes is dangerous and could lead to mistakes. It appears McAuliffe is beholden to that paranoia as well. For the governor that previously entertained the idea of making the portion of the voter registration form attesting to U.S. citizenship optional, demonstrating a willingness to keep people registered twice on the rolls is just another day at the office."

McAuliffe vetoed another piece of legislation, Senate Bill 872, which would have required voters to submit photo identification with absentee ballots.

McAuliffe struck down a bill in February that would require investigations of Virginia jurisdictions whose voter rolls contain more registered voters than residents in the jurisdiction. The bill was prompted by a report from the the Public Interest Legal Foundation that found eight counties in the state had more registered voters than people eligible to vote.

The state board of elections considered changing Virginia's voter registration form in 2015 to make questions about U.S. citizenship and felon status optional.

McAuliffe also killed a bill last year that would have required registrars to deny applicants who omitted biographical information about themselves on their voter forms.

The Virginia governor personally cleared 13,000 felons to vote in August 2016 after a state court struck down his order restoring the franchise to 206,000 felons.

McAuliffe's office did not return a request for comment on the vetoes.

Published under: Terry McAuliffe , Virginia