- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2015

Virginia Democrats filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the state’s voter ID law, joining an effort backed by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton to overturn voting rules in several swing states ahead of the 2016 elections.

The Democratic Party of Virginia said in the lawsuit that the photo ID requirement, which was approved by the Republican-run legislature, would make it difficult for residents to vote.

“The commonwealth voted strongly to support Democrats in recent national elections. After Republicans determined they couldn’t change the minds of the electorate, they decided to change the makeup of the electorate instead by making it more difficult for Virginians to exercise their right to vote,” Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement.

Similar arguments have been raised in lawsuits challenging GOP-backed voter ID laws in presidential battleground states of Ohio and Wisconsin.

Opponents of voter ID laws claim they disproportionally stops blacks, Hispanics and poor Americans from voting. Proponents argue that the laws are a safeguard against voter fraud. But there has been scant evidence of either widespread voter fraud or that the laws cause widespread problems with access to voting.

“This is another politically-motivated lawsuit funded by George Soros and out of state interest groups who are seeking to manipulate the court system in order to benefit the Democratic Party,” said Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell.

Mr. Soros has pledged to spend as much as $5 million trying to overturn voter ID laws and other election rules ahead of next year’s elections.

Mr. Howell said that Virginians support the photo ID law, which he called a “common sense” measure to protect the integrity of the polls.

“More than a dozen states have enacted photo ID laws, which have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court on multiple occasions,” he said. “I am completely confident this law will withstand this disingenuous challenge.”

The lawsuit also has ties to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

An attorney involved in all the lawsuits, Marc Elias, is a prominent elections lawyer who also serves as general counsel to the Clinton campaign. The campaign said that it is not involved in the lawsuits.

Mrs. Clinton last week called for restoring provisions of the Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, which opened the door to states adopting voter ID laws and other new election rules.

“Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of,” Mrs. Clinton said in a speech at Texas Southern University, a historic black college in Houston.

“I believe every citizen has the right to vote and I believe we should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote,” she said. “I call on Republicans at all levels of government, with all manner of ambition, to stop fear mongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud and start explaining why they are so scared of letting citizens have their say.”

She also proposed a massive expansion of laws that increase access to the polls, including establishing a nationwide 20-day early voting period and automatic voter registration that would immediately flood the rolls with likely Democratic voters.

David Sherfinski contributed to this report, which is based in part on wire service dispatches.

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