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Virginia governor signs voter ID bills into law

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell [official website] signed into law Monday legislation requiring voters in the state present photo identification prior to voting. The governor signed two bills [SB 1256, HB 1337] which established the new ID standards for elections. SB 1256 requires that voters present a photo ID that lists their address, such as a driver's license, passport or workplace photo ID [WP report]. HB 1337 removes utility bills and paychecks from the list of acceptable forms of voter ID. The Virginia Senate [official website] approved these bills [JURIST report] last month. The new ID standards will become effective in July provided no judicial injunctions arise from the legislation.

Voter ID laws [JURIST backgrounder] have become increasingly controversial and commonplace throughout the US. Last week the Arkansas senate approved its own voter ID bill, which was subsequently vetoed [JURIST reports] by the governor. Last month lawyers for Pennsylvania and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU) [advocacy website] reached an accord extending the temporary enjoinment [JURIST report] of the Pennsylvania voter ID laws, and allowing state residents to vote in upcoming primary and special elections without submitting ID. There are now more than 30 US States [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, including 17 states that have passed laws requiring photo ID. The issue remains legally controversial, especially in South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota [JURIST reports].

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