Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to suspend part of the Voting Rights Act, Virginia's General Assembly had already passed some revisions to state election law.
Although the Commonwealth IS one of the states that the Act had mandated for Justice Department pre-clearance, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli believes at least some of the bills passed earlier this year are necessary.
Lawmakers passed them with a goal of ensuring the integrity of elections.
Some new laws require more oversight of voter registration rolls, including routine checks to identify felons. But on the minds of many is whether or not people are fraudulently casting ballots. Such allegations made in different regions of the state prompted the Assembly to enable the Attorney General to investigate potential fraud. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says some circumstances would make it difficult to prosecute criminal activity without this law.
"When you do have active election law violations going on that cross jurisdictional boundaries, there's no prosecutorial authority in Virginia prior to this bill passing that had authority to step in and participate in the investigation," says Cuccinelli.
A situation in neighboring Maryland in which a congressional candidate was found guilty of voting in two states reinforced a need for the new law that allows Virginia to cross-reference voters with other states--to make sure they’re not casting ballots in more than one jurisdiction. And to reassure people that their vote is being counted, a FREE voter access system is being created that allows them to verify the status of an absentee ballot.