Terry McAuliffe on Government Reform
Democratic nominee for Governor; previously DNC Chair
When it was passed, our photo ID law made it significantly harder for many Virginians to vote, without any evidence that voter fraud is a problem in Virginia. And so this year I hope we will repeal it.
I will also submit legislation this session to allow no-excuse in-person absentee voting, and to add a new excuse for absentee by-mail for child caregivers. These reforms are based on a simple principle: That Virginia is strongest when we are working together to make it easier to vote, not harder.
The move, part of an executive order, expands voting rights to every Virginia felon who has completed their sentences and any parole or probation. It will also allow ex-offenders to run for public office, to serve on a jury, and to become a notary public.
The denial of rights has a particularly bitter history in Virginia, the governor says. "Too often in both our distant and recent history, politicians have used their authority to restrict people's ability to participate in our democracy," he said in a statement. "Today we are reversing that disturbing trend and restoring the rights of more than 200,000 of our fellow Virginians, who work, raise families and pay taxes in every corner of our Commonwealth."
I also hope you will pass my proposal to prohibit fundraising activity both in regular and special sessions. Right now, the only thing that makes special sessions special is that we can still raise money.
Additionally, this session is our opportunity to adopt the commonsense position that people who sit on boards or commissions should be prohibited from voting on matters that benefit themselves, their family members or their business partners.
No one was sure if campaign finance would really pass, but I'd said all along that I favored a ban on soft money. I had a reputation as the king of soft money because of some of the high-profile large-donor fund-raising I'd done during the Clinton years, but over the course of my more than 20 years raising money, more than 90% was small, individual checks.
Return Politics to the People
At a time when much of the world is emulating American values and institutions, too many Americans have lost confidence in their political system. They are turned off by a partisan debate that often seems to revolve not around opposing philosophies but around contending sets of interest groups. They believe that our current system for financing campaigns gives disproportionate power to wealthy individuals and groups and exerts too much influence over legislative and regulatory outcomes.
The time for piecemeal reform is past. As campaign costs soar at every level, we need to move toward voluntary public financing of all general elections and press broadcasters to donate television time to candidates.
The Internet holds tremendous potential for making campaigns less expensive and more edifying and for engaging Americans directly in electoral politics. We should promote the Internet as a new vehicle for political communication and champion online voting.