Virginia is an increasingly important state in the upcoming general election. From 1964 until Obama’s first win in 2008, Virginia had been primarily Republican. Virginia’s population started to become more diverse and now less conservative at the turn of the millennium. These diverse, more moderate populations are mostly voting Democrat.
Along with the diversity shift, are new policies that deal with how or who can vote. One policy change, recently trending in the media, is the new requirement of the photo-ID at the voting polls. The Registrar’s office, to keep up with the new law, is following up with retirement and healthcare facilities to make sure voters have photo IDs for November.
Despite the new requirement, registration to vote in Virginia is rising, especially online. A large influx of people registering to vote came after March. The influx is thought to be from the new online registration form that began in 2013. The registration rates in 2016, as opposed to 2012, rose 35 percent in Virginia. The rates tripled in Williamsburg and increased by 92 percent in James City.
Some believe this year’s increase is due to the media-drumming presidential candidate Donald Trump. He may be causing the race to be interesting enough to engage people in registering to vote. Whether they are registering to vote in support or opposition is unknown. It is too soon to tell.
The last, but potentially most important, policy shift is Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s decision to allow former felons to vote in the upcoming election. This new allowance must be renewed each month by the governor and may be reversed by the next governor, since his decision, 2,000 felons signed up in the first 2 weeks to be eligible for November.
Republicans claim that Gov. McAuliffe is hoping allowing felons to vote will help democratic candidate Hillary Clinton win Virginia.
All of these policy changes are contributing to Virginia’s importance in elections. However, a setback in Virginia voting is convincing its population to vote in non-presidential election years. In these years, 40 percent of voters cast a ballot, whereas in presidential election years 75 percent of voters head to the polls.