Opinion Why is the Woodbridge voter registration office on the chopping block?
Several days ago, I was shocked to learn that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has given notice to terminate its arrangement with the Prince William County Registrar at the Caton Hill DMV Office. I could not believe what I was hearing.
Voter participation is one of the most important things in any democracy but not all citizens are given equal access to that franchise- and we are learning that this week here in Woodbridge. Virginia has a long history in this area and none of it has been positive.
A few precincts in Woodbridge actually became nationally known because of four to five hour long lines in order to cast a vote in the 2012 election. Of course those also happened to be the precincts with the largest percentage of minority voters, and the precincts where President Obama was expected to be the strongest.
Now once again, Woodbridge voters are being targeted by Virginia in a way that could hamper attempts to turn our voters out. For the last decade the one refuge from potentially long lines on election day was the option to vote early at the DMV office in Woodbridge. In Virginia, early voters must state a reason in order to vote- but most residents in our area qualify for either expecting to leave Prince William County at any time on election day or having a combined work/commute schedule on election day that exceeds 11 hours.
As residents have learned of this option, turnout has increased at the Woodbridge DMV every year and turnout in our area continues to rise- especially for important off year elections. I support no excuse needed absentee voting to raise turnout even higher. But despite all of that somehow the Commissioner of DMV has decided that the Commonwealth will close our voter registration and early vote center at the Woodbridge DMV.
I’m absolutely appalled that this is even being discussed and without any notice or input from our community. As your next State Delegate, I pledge to introduce legislation that would force all state agencies to accommodate early voting when requested by the locality. This is a no brainer decision, and will save local taxpayer dollars. We can not allow thousands of voters to be silenced.
Here in the Route 1 corridor most of our residents work jobs and have long commutes- we need to make it easy for them to participate in voting, not harder. Just last year Alabama made national news for closing its opportunities for early voting in the areas with the most minority voters.
Please join me in raising our voices together now to ensure Virginia- and specifically those of us in southern Prince William County- does not follow that example. Virginia’s history may be voter suppression, but let’s make our future into being a state that encourages voter participation. If you agree I hope you will join my campaign by visiting my website.Send news and photos to Potomac Local
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