Voter ID law takes effect Sunday

Published 9:29 pm Thursday, June 28, 2012

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of stories focusing on new laws that take effect Sunday.

Among the most controversial measures up for discussion in this year’s General Assembly session was a bill requiring voters without identification to vote a provisional ballot.

The bill became law and will take effect Sunday, though its first actual application in Suffolk won’t come until the Nov. 6 elections.

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Before, voters without identification could sign an affidavit stating that they were who they said they were, and could then vote in the usual manner.

The law now requires such voters to cast a provisional ballot, in which case the voter would have to later provide valid identification to the voter registrar in order for the ballot to be counted.

“I’ve always supported reasonable bills that would require proof of identification,” said Delegate Chris Jones, R-Suffolk. “I felt it was a reasonable approach, and it did not take away anyone’s right to vote.”

A new voter identification card will be sent to every voter in the state in late September or early October to ensure everyone has one, according to Justin Riemer, deputy secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections. In addition, the list of acceptable identifications was expanded.

Valid identifications to cast a ballot now include a student ID card issued by any four-year institution of higher education located in the state, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck showing the name and address of the voter.

Previously, only a voter registration card, Social Security card, driver’s license or other state-issued ID card or an employee ID card were acceptable.

“Under this bill, no one is prevented from casting a vote,” Jones said. “I have always been in favor of voter ID, as it ensures the integrity of the process.”

Under the new law, a voter who does not bring an acceptable identification to the polls must vote the provisional ballot, and bring an acceptable ID to the local electoral board by noon the Friday after the election for his vote to be counted.

For more information on the new law, call 804-864-8901.