[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Thursday that Virginia’s voter identification law is constitutional. The plaintiffs challenged SB 1256 [materials], which requires that voters have a valid form of ID either before voting or within three days after voting, alleging that it inhibited “equal participation by protected classes in the electoral process” and was discriminatory. The judge rejected these arguments, however, and stated that the plaintiffs had failed to prove that the voter ID law was “arbitrary, irrational, or invidiously discriminatory, in either its enactment or implementation” and noted that while the law “added a layer of inconvenience to the voting process it appears to affect all voters equally.” The judge finally noted that “the Court’s mission is to judge not the wisdom of the Virginia voter ID law, but rather its constitutionality.”
Voting rights remain a controversial legal issue in the US. Earlier this week a federal judge ruled that Kansas cannot require voters to provide proof of citizenship [JURIST report] when registering to vote. Last month a federal judge upheld [JURIST report] North Carolina’s voter ID law. Earlier last month a federal appeals court held that a Wisconsin voter ID law needs to be re-examined [JURIST report]. In March a federal appeals court agreed to reconsider [JURIST report] Texas’ voter ID law before the entire court. Last May the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a 2012 law requiring voters to be state residents, not just domiciled in the state. In March of last year Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration.