Constitutional amendment; qualifications of voters and the right to vote. (SJ12)

Introduced By

Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate

Description

Constitutional amendment (first resolution); qualifications of voters and the right to vote. Establishes that the sole qualifications to vote in the Commonwealth are United States citizenship, being at least 18 years of age, residency in the Commonwealth, and registration to vote in accordance with requirements set out in the Constitution of Virginia. The amendment further provides that any person who meets those qualifications shall have the right to vote and such right cannot be abridged by law. The bill removes from current constitutional qualifications to vote not having been convicted of a felony and not having been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent. Read the Bill »

Status

01/16/2018: Failed to Pass in Committee

History

DateAction
12/27/2017Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18103390D
12/27/2017Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
01/16/2018Continued to 2019 in Privileges and Elections (14-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: SJ9.

Comments

ACLU-VA Voting Rights, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia strongly supports the passage of this resolution that would put before the voters a constitutional amendment that guarantees all citizens over 18 the right to vote. Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy. So much so, the right to vote is mentioned more times than any other right in the U.S. Constitution. Yet, there is no explicitly affirmative “right to vote” provision in either federal or Virginia Constitution. Courts and legislatures do not always treat the vote as a fundamental right when deciding cases or passing laws, especially for citizens most directly impacted. Like other fundamental rights that never disappear, the right to vote should be guaranteed without exception. No person should be denied the fundamental right to vote.
It is time we made clear that the vote is inherent to citizenship, the essential building block of civic life in our democracy, and it belongs to the people, not the government they elect.
In Virginia, it is no longer okay to allow government to decide who gets to vote. Every citizen in Virginia, including those incarcerated, are governed by the same laws. If every citizen is governed by the same laws, it stands that everyone has the right to vote in choosing who represents them.
We must resist any effort to tinker with the current felon disenfranchisement provision. It would be disastrous to pass a flawed constitutional proposal that would permanently reinstate insurmountable hurdles and a modern-day poll tax on the right to vote. Mandatory repayment of financial costs, a modern-day poll tax, criminalizes poverty and exacerbates the racially disparate impact of felony disenfranchisement. All citizens should be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote without restriction. Full citizenship requires the ability to have a voice in government.