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Vote-registration revamp

RICHMOND—Last October, an out-of-state campaign worker in Harrisonburg was accused of throwing eight voter registration forms in the trash.

This month, his hearing was postponed until April, but state lawmakers are citing that case as they work on bills requiring third-party voter registration groups to register and get training.

The bills—a House and a Senate version—say that groups taking more than 25 blank voter registration forms from general registrars or the state Board of Elections must register with that electoral agency and receive training on how to properly register people to vote.

In the Senate, amendments made on Tuesday raised the number to 50, allowed for online training and exempted college-based voter registration groups, which Sen. Mark Obenshain said “largely eviscerated” the bill.

Those amendments were not made to the other bill in the House, so the bills are likely to go to a conference committee to work out a compromise.

Lawmakers backing the bills said they’re just trying to make sure the outside groups conducting voter registration drives know what they’re doing, and aren’t signing up potential voters who then find out their registration was done improperly or never even turned in.

“They’re registering so many people at once that the voter who puts his or her faith in the person that knocked on their door then by the time it comes round to November and it comes to vote, they find out that they’re not registered,” said Sen. Bill Stanley, R–Franklin. “These organizations should be out there registering people to vote. But we should be sure they’re following the law. This does not suppress the vote, this does not keep people from being registered.”

Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245