Attorney General Shows Concern Over New Voter ID Law

Attorney General Mark R. Herring has cautioned state election officials that the new voter ID law, and what constitutes as a valid photo ID, has the potential to result in unconstitutionally unequal treatment of voters, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

In an email sent on August 5, 2014, Herring said that the new law would create confusion at the polls and had the potential to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment. Herring also warned that the new law could prohibit qualified voters from placing a ballot.

Herring said “I strongly encourage the board to reject the proposed language to make certain our elections remain as open and fair as possible.”

The scrutiny from Herring’s assessment was a part of the regulatory review to ensure that the proposed regulations were in compliance with the law. The board will meet again today to discuss the issue now that the obligatory 21-day public comment period is over.

Just before the law went into effect in June, the elections board determined that expired IDs were a valid form of identification that would be accepted at the polls. However, with concerns form Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), the sponsor of the bill, the elections board decided to open the issue for public comment to decide if the agency has the right to determine which forms of ID are valid.

According to the new law “valid” ID documents have “legal effect, legally or officially acceptable or of binding force” and are “genuinely issued by the agency or issuing entity appearing upon the document where the bearer of the document reasonably appears to be the person whose photograph is contained thereon.”

The law also allows for theses such documents to be accepted at the polls up to 30 days after their expiration. Herrings office found that in some instances the law would classify unexpired IDs as invalid. Election officials may not be able to tell if a license is “in legal effect” or is “officially acceptable or of binding force. An example of this would be if someone’s driver’s license has been revoked or suspended, under the current language of the law these people would not have valid identification.

Attorney General Declares ‘dreamers’ Eligible for In-State Tuition

Mark R. Herring

Mark R. Herring

Last week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced that some immigrants living in the US illegally who were brought to the state as children can qualify for in-state tuition rates under existing law.

Herring made the announcement at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus to a room of Latino students, immigration activists and education officials.

“We should welcome these smart, talented, hard-working young people into our economy and society rather than putting a stop sign at the end of 12th grade,” Herring said.

Herring’s move builds on Obama’s decision to allow thousands of immigrants to remain in the country. Virginia students who are lawfully in the country qualify for in-state tuition rates under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Herring’s decision instantly made college more affordable for more than 8,000 young immigrants. For affected students, securing in-state tuition rates would remove a substantial financial burden for many families. At the University of Virgnia, tuition for in-state resident students is $12,998. Out-of-state costs more than triple the in-state costs, coming in at $42,184.

More details on Herring’s ‘dreamers’ plan is available at the Washington Post.

New AG Mark Herring Drops Marriage Equality Bomb on Virginia

Herring for Attorney General

Attorney General Mark Herring

This morning, Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced he does not believe the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional and will no longer defend the law in court, according to the New York Times.

Herring’s decision comes after federal court rulings in Utah and Oklahoma that struck down laws forbidding same-sex marriages in those states. This is a marked shift from Virginia’s previously conservative position on marriage equality.

This morning, Herring spokesman Michael Kelly said the attorney general’s office planned to file a brief in Norfolk (where a challenge to the ban is being heard) to notify the court of the state’s decision.

“The Commonwealth will side with the plaintiffs in seeking to have the ban declared unconstitutional,” Mr. Kelly said in an email according to the New York Times.

“While Virginia has a storied place in the founding of our nation and has contributed to the development of our democracy, it has also been on the wrong side of court cases involving school desegregation, interracial marriage, and state-supported single-sex education,” Mr. Kelly said. He said Mr. Herring planned to say at a news conference Thursday morning, “It’s time for Virginia to be on the right side of the law, and the right side of history.”

Who Paid for the Attorney General Recount, Anyway?

If you’re subscribed to recieve emails from either attorney general candidate or candidate’s biggest supporters, you’ve likely seen requests to contribute to the recount fund.

The Daily Press in Hampton Roads calculated the donations and found that Mark Obenshain (R) lead Mark Herring (D) by a huge margin in fundraising for the recount.

The Daily Press’s chart can be found here.

Attorney General Race Recount Begins

mark+obenshain+mark+herringMark Herring’s (D) 165-vote win headed to a recount yesterday. A total of 133 localities will recount a total of 2.2 million votes cast last month in the statewide election to determine the winner of the attorney general’s race. Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria began yesterday morning at 7 a.m.; all other localities began this morning.

On November 27, Republican attorney general candidate Mark D. Obenshain requested a recount of the votes due to the very tight margin of Herring’s win. However, recounts don’t usually change the outcomes, according to University of Virginia Center for Politics head Larry Sabato.

Speaking to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sabato says, “A recount is an extension of the political wars after the election night armistice. The stakes are very high for both parties, plus the candidates, their staffs, and families are exhausted by the long campaign and now the overtime process.”

By the end of the week, Virginia can breathe a sigh of relief and know that the statewide elections have been officially decided and all ballots are counted.

Obenshain Denies Decision to Involve General Assembly in Attorney General Race

Mark D. Obenshain (R) dismissed the idea that he has already decided to ask the General Assembly to step into the attorney general race, according to The Washington Post.

Obenshain had previously raised the possibility of asking the General Assembly to step in after next week’s recount. However, contesting the election through the General Assembly would be a step that has never been taken in a statewide race in modern Virginia history.

The Washington Post also reports that Obenshain is unlikely to try unless his campaign can make a case of huge irregularities in the election process. The option would be even less appealing for Democrat Mark Herring, given the Republican dominance in the legislature.

Republicans Enter Race for Senate Vacancy

As of Monday, state Senator Mark Herring is the certified new attorney general of Virginia. Barring any recount drama from Mark Obenshain, Herring will leave a vacancy in Virginia’s senate.

Herndon resident Ron Meyer, 24, has announced his candidacy on Tuesday for the empty Loudon County seat. Meyer is a public relations professional who contributes conservative political analysis to Fox News. Jon Whitbeck, chairman of the Republican Party’s 10th Congressional District Committee, announced his candidacy Monday.

Both candidates stress their continued support for Mark Obenshain, Herring’s opponent.

Read more at the Washington Post.

Mark Herring Wins Attorney General Race, Officially

As of yesterday afternoon, Democrat Mark Herring came out on top in the extremely close and dramatic attorney general race. Out of 2.2 million votes cast, Herring won by only a mere 165 votes over Republican Mark Obenshain.

Obenshain has made no moves towards filing for a recount yet, but we will not be surprised if that’s what he decides to do. According to the Augusta Free Press, this is the closest political race in Virginia’s history, making it highly unlikely that Obenshain will take the loss without a fight.

Obenshain commented, “Margins this small are why Virginia law provides a process for a recount. However, a decision to request a recount, even in this historically close election, is not one to be made lightly. Virginia law allows 10 days to request a recount. We will make further announcements regarding a recount well within that time, in order to ensure the closure and confidence in the results that Virginians deserve.”

He has 10 days to file for a recount before he would have to take the loss to Herring. This has been a very hectic political season for Virginia, to say the least.

Recount Likely in Attorney General Race

61275039_4934cdf327Though the election was last week, Virginians still don’t know who the new attorney general will be.

As of this morning, CNN reports a very marginal lead for Mark Herring (D): 0.01 percent. This small margin is well within the realms of a recount petition; the State Board of Elections allows recounts for any difference of one percent or less. Today is also the deadline for all localities to finish their vote canvasses. The board will certify the election on November 25, and changes in the vote count are typical between the election and the certification.

Neither Obenshain (R) or Herring (D) is conceding the race and both camps are expecting a win.