Voter ID Laws: Virginia Governor Proposes Repealing Photo ID Requirement

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The Democratic candidate for Virginia's governor, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, campaigns at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society following Friday prayers on November 3, 2017, in Sterling, Virginia. On Monday, Governor Northam announced a new bill to repeal voter ID photo requirements. Getty/Win McNamee

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced he will be introducing a legislative package to repeal voter photo identification requirements across the state in a bid to remove barriers to voting and encourage participation.

The new bill also seeks to amend campaign finance laws by proposing to limit large campaign contributions, ban direct corporate contributions and prohibit the personal use of campaign funds.

"Participation makes our democracy strong—we should encourage every eligible voter to exercise this fundamental right, rather than creating unnecessary barriers that make getting to the ballot box difficult," Northam, a Democrat, said in a statement on Monday.

"I am also hopeful we will be successful working together this session to increase the transparency of our elections for Virginians by imposing reasonable limitations on campaign contributions."

The legislative package also includes a proposal to implement no-excuse absentee voting to help reduce queues at polling stations on Election Day, which would further expand voting access for Virginians.

In the statement, Kaye Kory, a Democrat in Virginia's House of Delegates, criticized lawmakers who pass laws to suppress voters across America. "Voting is the constitutional right of every American citizen. Lawmakers should be working to increase access to the voting booth, not inventing ways to keep voters away from the polls," she said. "The photo ID requirement prevents the most vulnerable Virginians from voting and silences the voices of those who most need to be heard."

Under the bill, campaign contributions will be capped at $10,000 per candidate throughout a given primary and general election cycle. There are currently no limits as to the amount a single person can contribute to a campaign in Virginia, while 39 other states and the federal government already have limits in place.

"There's too much big money in politics," state Senator Chap Petersen said in the statement. "We need some reasonable limits on what people can contribute in order to keep the process honest."

Northam has been serving as the 73rd governor of Virginia since January 13, 2018. The legislative season for 2019 starts Wednesday.