Attorney General Mark R. Herring has warned state election officials that their new definition of what constitutes a valid photo ID, as proposed by the State Board of Elections, would likely lead to unconstitutionally unequal treatment of voters. “The language as drafted by the Board of Elections could cause confusion at the polls, lead to unequal treatment of voters in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and potentially prevent qualified voters from casting a ballot,” Herring said in an email today. The attorney general’s assessment was part of the regulatory review to ascertain that proposed regulations are in compliance with the law. The board is scheduled to meet Wednesday to further discuss the new definition following a 21-day public comment period on the issue, which has sparked comments from hundreds of citizens.
In June, just weeks before Virginia’s new voter ID law went into effect, the elections board had determined that expired but otherwise valid forms of identification permitted under the new mandate will be accepted at the polls.
But following concern from the sponsor of the legislation – Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg – the board decided to reopen the public comment period for an additional period and explore whether the agency has legal authority to determine what forms of ID are valid.