In brief: Worst state to vote, bug-free buses, facial hair for charity and more

Mississippi ekes by Virginia as the state that makes it the most difficult for its citizens to vote, while Oregon is ranked best state for voters in a recent study. Mississippi ekes by Virginia as the state that makes it the most difficult for its citizens to vote, while Oregon is ranked best state for voters in a recent study.

We’re No. 49

Virginia ranks as one of the worst states in the country when it comes to ease of voting, according to a recent study from Northern Illinois University. Our state has slipped in the “cost of voting index” since 1996, when we ranked No. 42, to the “second most difficult” place to vote in 2016—just ahead of Mississippi, says co-author Michael Pomante.

Voter fraud is often cited as the reason for the restrictions, but Pomante says, “We don’t see voter fraud in other states that make it easier to vote.”

And what does No. 1 look like? That would be Oregon, home to automatic voter registration and where every voter on the rolls is mailed a ballot, which can be mailed or dropped off, says Pomante. “It makes voter turnout much higher.”

The next step for researchers is to look at voter disenfranchisement, says Pomante. “We do know there’s a correlation with minority population and voting. States with higher minority populations make it more difficult to vote.”

And on the cost of voting index, most Southern states wallow in the bottom half of the scale.

Reasons why the Old Dominion is so voter unfriendly:

  • Voter registration deadline: It’s three weeks before Election Day, while some states have same-day registration, automatic registration, or even pre-registration for those about to turn 18.
  • Photo ID: without it, voters have to cast provisional ballots.
  • No early voting.
  • Absentee voting: You’d better have a
    darn good excuse to do so.
  • Felon disenfranchisement: While not quite as bad as Florida, where 10 percent of
    the citizens can’t vote because they’ve spent time in jail, Virginians who have served their time have to petition the governor to get back their voting rights.

Quote of the week

“We’ve got to do a better job of teaching critical thinking to young people so they won’t be suckered by hate mongering.”—Martin Luther King III at the Virginia Film Festival

In brief

Rebel flags banned

The Charlottesville City School Board voted unanimously November 1 to prohibit wearing hate symbols such as Confederate, Nazi, and KKK imagery across the division. Albemarle, which has been sued in the past for restricting images on students’ clothes, is still wrestling with the issue.

Another UVA frat racial incident

UVA’s Student Hip-Hop Organization and I.M.P. Society denounced “blatant discrimination and violence” at an October 27 party they hosted at Beta Theta Pi, the Cav Daily reports. After deciding not to allow additional guests, white guys guarding the doors let their friends in, and fraternity members set up a separate, exclusive space from other partygoers, creating an unwelcome environment for minority students. The fraternity apologized November 2.

‘Graduation rapist’ in news again

Jeffrey Miller, formerly known as Jeffrey Kitze. Photo: Virginia Department of Corrections

Jeffrey Kitze was convicted of raping his sister’s UVA law school roommate in 1989. And he was back in jail for probation violations for stalking a local woman in 2013, when he changed his name to Jeffrey Ted Miller. In May, he moved to New York, where a woman recently requested a protective order against him, CBS19 reports.

Books are back

Another used bookstore will take the place of the Downtown Mall’s now-closed Read It Again, Sam, according to landlord Joan Fenton. She says new tenant Daphne Spain will open the doors of Second Act in February.

Cost of grooming?

Some Charlottesville police are fighting childhood cancer by not shaving their facial hair until February. “Officers will be allowed to grow beards and donate the money they typically spend on shaving and grooming to benefit the UVA Children’s Hospital Cancer Clinic,” according to a CPD press release on the Winter Wool campaign. Here’s hoping some CPD members are used to expensive shaves.

Transit boss declares CAT buses bug-free

During the summer, C-VILLE Weekly learned of Charlottesville Area Transit drivers being plagued by irritations that they attributed to bug bites. The city confirmed it was aware of “two or three cases,” but said the drivers had not seen the bugs they believed responsible for the bites.

“They have never found a thing,” says transit director John Jones. “There aren’t any bugs on the buses. There are bugs on people.”

When passengers visibly sporting bugs catch the CAT, says Jones, “We call Foster’s Pest Control immediately.”

City buses are vacuumed every night, cleaned every week, and bug-bombed regularly, he says. In fact, one driver’s rash came from the cleaning products. “They’re harsh,” says Jones.

A new trolley will have hard plastic seats to further thwart insect infestations, he says.

He also notes that a sofa in the drivers lounge that employees wouldn’t touch was replaced by a leather one that turned up in the city warehouse. “One of the judges downtown was getting rid of some nice furniture.”

Jones reassures CAT riders: “We never found an infestation of bed bugs or anything.”

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