by Grady Brown
There are a few weeks until the midterm elections, and some Virginians have raised concerns about the state’s voter ID law, passed back in 2013. The contentious bill barely passed the Senate, requiring then Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling to cast the deciding vote.
Lt. Gov. Bolling explained his deciding vote in a press release saying, “I think [the bill] is a reasonable effort to tighten voter identification requirements and assure greater integrity in the voting process.” However, Democrats remained unconvinced. Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) stated, “we still have no evidence of voter fraud. None at all.” Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) claimed that the bill was “simply a voter suppression bill.”
Coming into effect this year, the law requires voters to show a valid form of photo identification at their place of polling. Voters may vote provisionally if they lack proper identification, but provisional voters must either mail a copy of their identification or present one in person within three days to County election officials.
Virginia is one of 34 states that has passed a voter ID law. Like many others, the Virginia bill sharply divided Republicans and Democrats. Republicans were primarily concerned with voter fraud in Virginia. The Virginia Voters Alliance recently reported a case of 43,893 duplicate registered voters in both Maryland and Virginia and 164 voters that appeared to vote in both states.
by Grady Brown
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the Commonwealth received a federal Gear-Up grant to improve low-income student college preparedness earlier this week. But the University’s decision to cut AccessUVA funding and the Commonwealth’s deep budget cuts are sending mixed messages about the Virginia’s commitment to low-income student college going.
The Federal government recognized the importance that college preparedness plays in increasing college access to low-income students by introducing Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs grants. GEAR UP states receive a six or seven year matching grant to increase the state’s capacity for early intervention and college preparedness programing for low-income students. State officials aim these grants specifically at cohorts of low-income students, no later than 7th grade, and follow them through high school graduation and into their first year of college. Officials set aside portions of the grants for financial aid and scholarships. Several states who successfully implemented GEAR UP grants reported increased AP test completion, gains in graduation rates, and higher college application completion rates among low income students.