Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell [official website] on Friday signed [press release] Virginia's new voter ID legislation [materials] which will require voters to show one form of acceptable identification in order to cast a vote. In addition to signing the bill, the governor issued an executive order [text, PDF] directing the state Board of Elections to send new voter ID cards to all Virginia voters. In a statement, the governor said he believed the new law would help to prevent election fraud and inequality:
Every qualified citizen has the right to cast one vote. Not two votes; not zero votes. It is our duty as a democracy to ensure that is always the case. ... This legislation does two things. It increases the forms of identification that can be used for purpose of voting, while helping to further prevent voter fraud and ensuring Virginians that they can have faith that votes have not been fraudulently cast. ... The additional steps my administration will take to implement this legislation will ensure that no voter is overly burdened by the provisions included in this legislationThe legislation lists a number of acceptable forms of identification, including pay checks and bank statements with the voter's name on them. Photo identification is not required. The law is scheduled to go into effect on July 1.
There are now 32 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, but the issue remains controversial. Last month, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a bill requiring voters to present photo identification [JURIST report] in the upcoming November election. Also in March, a Wisconsin judge ruled unconstitutional [JURIST report] the state's voter ID law requiring a voter to display photo ID when entering a polling place to vote. In February, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed suit against the US Department of Justice (DOJ) over its ruling that barred South Carolina [JURIST reports] from enforcing its voter ID law. In November, Mississippi voters approved a ballot measure [JURIST report] to implement a voter ID law.