Controversial voter-ID bills pass GA

Both the House of Delegates and the Senate have now passed new restrictions on voting in Virginia that will almost certainly be signed by Gov. Robert McDonnell. SB 1 and HB 9 require voters to show identification at the polls and those without ID must cast a provisional ballot.

SB1 passed the Senate today on a 21-20 vote when Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the bill.

HB 9 passed the House of Delegates on Feb. 1 on a 69-30 vote.

“The House and Senate voter ID bills have only one purpose — to make it more difficult to vote in Virginia,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “Most people carry IDs these days, but if they don’t have one, or theirs has been misplaced or stolen, they will have to cast a ballot that will not be counted until the electoral board is convinced of the voter’s identity at a meeting held the day after Election Day.”

“Every indication is that elderly persons, low-income persons and racial minorities- who have the same constitutional right to vote as everyone else-will be the most affected by this law,” said Willis.

Under current Virginia law, voters who do not have an ID at the polls are allowed to cast a regular ballot after signing a form swearing to their identity. A provisional ballot, however, is not counted until the electoral board meets and agrees that the voter is legitimate.

The House of Delegates is also addressing HB 569, which would require proof of citizenship to register to vote. HB 569 also requires that all persons have a government-issued photo ID to vote. IDs would be produced free of charge to low-income persons, but only after they signed a form swearing to their indigence. The ACLU believes such a law is unconstitutional because it imposes what is tantamount to a poll tax on persons who must purchase a government-issued ID.

“These bills are based entirely on the myth that there is rampant voter impersonation fraud in our electoral system,” added Willis. “In fact the opposite is true, according to recent studies.  Voter impersonation, which is a felony, is almost impossible to pull off in today’s world. Besides, how many people are willing to risk time in prison, a hefty fine, and a lifetime ban on voting to cast one vote on one Election Day?”


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