Virginia governor proposes amendments to voter ID bill

Virginia governor proposes amendments to voter ID bill

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[JURIST] Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell [official website] on Tuesday proposed amendments [text, PDF] to Virginia’s voter ID legislation as passed by the General Assembly during the 2012 session. McDonnell’s amendments include [press release] extending the time a voter would have to present an ID to the local electoral board to the Friday after the election, allowing for community college identification cards as acceptable forms of ID, and requiring a signature comparison component where any voter who votes without presenting a valid ID will already have the signature on his/her provisional ballot on file. The Virginia Senate approved the current legislation [JURIST report] in late February, which allows voters one extra day after the election to present their IDs for their votes to count. In a statement, McDonnell said:

Ensuring the security, fairness and openness of our elections are cornerstones of a strong democracy. For people to have faith in their government, they must have faith in their elections. This legislation passed by the General Assembly attempts to increase the security of our elections by lessening the risk of voter fraud. The legislation adds five forms of identification to the list of acceptable forms of ID and strengthens the protections when someone votes without presenting an ID. In reviewing this legislation, I want to preserve this goal of preventing illegal voting while promoting voter participation, and making sure we do not stand in the way of legitimate voting.

The Virginia General Assembly will consider McDonnell’s amendments next week when the session reconvenes.

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 [official website] signed [press release, PDF] a bill [HB 943 materials] 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) [official website] 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. In June, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed [JURIST report] a law requiring persons to present photo ID at voting booths. In March 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a law requiring voters to present one of six government-issued photo IDs 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 an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration in October 2010.