Over the weekend, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed several election bills into law, the culmination of a historic legislative session that saw Democrats exercise full control over state government for the first time in a quarter century. Among those new laws is one establishing automatic voter registration through the state Department of Motor Vehicles, meaning all eligible DMV customers will be automatically registered unless they opt out. As shown on the map at the top of this post (see here for a larger version), more than a dozen states have now adopted automatic registration in some form.
Northam also signed several other new laws, including ones that:
The enactment of these reforms follows the Democratic legislature's passage of redistricting reform, which will appear on November's ballot as a constitutional amendment.
Northam also sent some bills back to the legislature, including one that would end prison gerrymandering by counting incarcerated people for redistricting purposes at their last address instead of where they are imprisoned (and can't even vote). Northam asked lawmakers to give deadlines for prisons to provide the state with the needed information, and legislators will reconvene on April 22 to take up returned bills.
Meanwhile, Northam had until Saturday to act on several other bills, the status of which are not yet clear. These measures include bills that would:
Before Democrats won full control of the state government in 2019, Virginia ranked among the worst states for voting access. Once Democrats have enacted all of these reforms, Virginia will be one of the better states for making it easy to vote.