HD30 - Report of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Ways to Improve the Registration and Electoral Process and Encourage Voter Participation

Executive Summary:

In 1993, the General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution No. 532 (Appendix A), which established a nine-member joint subcommittee to study ways to improve the registration and electoral process and encourage voter participation. In its study, the subcommittee also considered (i) ways to assist voters to retain their right to vote when they move within the Commonwealth and (ii) the meaning of the term "residence" in determining the voter qualification of students attending Virginia's institutions of higher learning. [See House Joint Resolution No. 488 (Appendix B) and House Joint Resolution No. 570 (Appendix C).]

The 1994 Session of the General Assembly authorized the continuation of the study, expanding its charge to include an assessment of the impact on Virginia of the newly enacted National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). [See House Joint Resolution No. 30 (Appendix D).] Passed in May 1993, the NVRA requires states to expand and revise voter registration procedures for federal elections to make it easier for persons to register and remain registered. A number of options are provided to the states in implementing the act, including the application of the act to state and local elections. Most states have chosen to extend the act to state and local elections in order to avoid the cost and administrative entanglements of maintaining a dual registration system--one for federal elections and another for state and local elections. The subcommittee was charged with identifying the mandatory and permissive provisions of the act and recommending legislation and policies to bring Virginia into full compliance In a manner that would benefit Virginia's electorate.

The State Board of Elections' National Voter Registration Task Force was requested to assist the joint subcommittee in developing proposed legislation to implement the federal act. [See House Joint Resolution No. 29 (Appendix E).] The task force, an ad hoc study group comprised of agency personnel, general registrars and other individuals knowledgeable about election laws, was formed originally to evaluate the legal, fiscal, and administrative impacts of the NVRA.