Richmond, VA — Today, Virginia Democrats and leaders on the front lines of the fight to protect voting rights held a video press conference to discuss the significant progress Virginia has made on voting rights over the last two years and what is at stake in the face of rising GOP extremism.
Every Republican candidate for governor in Virginia has pushed Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election and advanced plans to restrict voting rights. Just yesterday, Kirk Cox drew condemnation for proposing to “go further” than Georgia in limiting ballot access if he were to win the election. While Virginia recently made national news for passing the South’s first state-level voting rights act, Virginians’ right to vote will be on the ballot in November.
See key excerpts from the discussion below, and watch the full conversation here:
DPVA Chairwoman Susan Swecker:
“Just yesterday [Kirk Cox] said he thinks Virginia should go further than Georgia in passing new voting restrictions…The stakes this year are clear. At every level, Republicans are running on a platform of restricting voting rights and erecting barriers to the ballot. The Republican calls for ‘election integrity’ are nothing more than ploys to restrict voting rights and a signal to their voters that they believe in Donald Trump’s lies about the election.”
Congressman Bobby Scott:
“Regrettably, Republicans are trying to restrict the right to vote...But thankfully in Virginia with Governor Northam and leaders like Leader Herring and Delegate Cia Price, Virginia is protecting the right to vote. But if we’re going to protect that right, we have to use it to elect a General Assembly and statewide officers who will protect it. That’s why this election is so important.”
Delegate Charniele Herring:
“Please understand, it is the position of the Republican Party -- glorification of restricting the ability of eligible voters to cast their ballot. That's where they stand. Republican philosophy, rhetoric, and policy about voting should give anyone pause.
We fought for several years to take the majority, and once we did, we knew one of the first things we had to do was make it easier for eligible voters in Virginia to cast their ballots [...] In 2018, we were ranked the second hardest state to vote in. And over the past two sessions, with a Democratic majority, we have made large changes to help make voting easier for Virginians -- and now, we are the 12th easiest state.”
Delegate Cia Price:
"The act of voting is freedom. It’s power. And that’s why it has been weaponized against us since the franchise of voting began -- and that's why we have worked so hard on expanding access to the ballot...Voter suppression has been targeted against those who were already disenfranchised by systemic racism, and it has impacted who has been elected and how they built power...Our values are based in the simple fact that the more people who can participate, the stronger our democracy."
Tram Nguyen - Co-Executive Director of New Virginia Majority:
"[In Virginia] we are going to have some of the strongest voter protections in place in the country, and that is significant... It's not lost on any of us what's at stake this November. The outcome of November could mean that all of these achievements, all of these successes, can be turned around very quickly -- and we know that they will try. [...]
We are going to lean in and do everything we can to ensure that Congress expands and protects voting rights too… it’s what this nation was founded on; it’s what makes me proud to be an American."
Danielle Root - Director of Voting Rights and Access to Justice at the Center for American Progress:
"There are some extremist politicians who quite frankly, don’t want elections to be carried out fairly, and they don't want certain Americans to cast ballots... These extremist politicians are trying to dismantle the many policies that played essential roles in last year's elections, and are erecting deliberate barriers that are specifically designed to make voting harder for people of color and for young people.
These efforts need to be stopped. We, as a nation, can’t afford to backslide into the voting rights dark ages. Instead, we need bold solutions that improve access to the ballot box for all Americans so that we can build a democracy that is truly and fully inclusive, and where members of every community have an equal voice."