[JURIST] The Virginia Senate [official website] on Monday approved a bill [SB 1, PDF] requiring identification from those trying to vote in elections. The bill passed 21-20 after an initial 20-20 deadlock that was broken by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling [official website]. The bill requires voters to provide:
A current and valid photo identification or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter. Such individual who desires to vote in person but who does not show one of the forms of identification specified in this paragraph shall be offered a provisional ballot.
The bill goes back to the Virginia House of Delegates to confirm amendments made by the Senate and then to Governor Bob McDonnell [official website] who says he is still uncertain if he will sign the bill into law.
The recent trend of states enacting voter identification laws has been a source of controversy as many opponents feel the laws are intended to dissuade poor or minority voters from participating while others view the requirements as a necessary tool to prevent voter fraud. Earlier this month the Advancement Project [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [text, PDF] challenging a recent Wisconsin voter ID law [JURIST report]. In August, South Carolina’s Senate Minority Caucus filed an objection [JURIST report] with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website], asking it to reject the state’s new voter identification law. In June, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed [JURIST report] a law requiring persons to present photo identification at voting booth. In March, the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a law requiring voters to present one of six government-issued photo identifications in order to vote. In contrast, a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a portion of Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration in October 2010.