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The NVRA’s Privacy Problem

by Scott Van Der Hyde, Contributor

A recent 4th Circuit opinion has highlighted a possible conflict that exists between the National Voter Registration Acts (NVRA) transparency provisions and concerns over voter privacy.  In Project Vote v. Young, the 4th Circuit attempted to resolve a conflict between the NVRA’s requirement that states make available for public review records pertaining to the implementation of voter registration programs and activities, and a Virginia law that prohibits disclosing many voter registration records.  The court ultimately resolved this issue in favor of the NVRA’s disclosure requirement.  While resolving the issue in this particular case, the court’s decision has the potential to raise new issues in terms of what must be disclosed and gives rise to a number of privacy concerns. Continue reading

The Battleground 2012: Armed with More than a Vote: Guns in Polling Places in Virginia

by Scott Van Der Hyde

Virginia is widely acknowledged as a state that strongly supports the rights of citizens to own and carry guns.  A number of recent laws demonstrate this support by allowing Virginians to open-carry guns in most public places.  These new laws are likely to lead to a greater number of people carrying guns openly in public.  Now that Election Day is drawing near, the question naturally arises: should it be legal to open-carry at Virginia polling places on Election Day.

The issue of open-carry in polling places has come up a few times in recent elections in Virginia and elsewhere.  One specific instance in Virginia occurred in 2011 when an election officer attempted to carry a handgun on his hip at the polling place. The   chief officer at the polling station told the election officer that he could not remain at the polling place while he was wearing his handgun.  The election office informed the chief officer that he was not violating any laws by having his gun at the polling station, but he was still not allowed to remain at the polling station with the handgun.  According to the election officer, the chief officer was concerned about the handgun making people inside the polling station uncomfortable. Continue reading

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