Augustine Carter spent six years working to get a Virginia identification card so she could vote. Carter had no birth certificate; the only evidence she had of her birth was a certificate of baptism. “I went to get my state ID renewed, and I carried this church document, and I was turned down completely. They say the law had changed, and I could not use that. Now what am I going to do? I didn’t know what to do,” Carter said. Carter said she has voted her whole life; she has worked, paid taxes and owns a home in Virginia. “They told me at Motor Vehicles that morning, ‘You could be a terrorist.’ Those were the words that they said to me,” she said. To prove her citizenship, Carter needed the 1940 census from when she was 12. She provided her home address and all the names of the people who lived in her home and their relation to her. Because the information checked out, she was able to use it as a birth certificate.
“Don’t be so long. Take my photograph. I’m ready for my ID,” Carter said when she went back to the Department of Motor Vehicles for her photo identification card.
Tram Nguyen, associate director of Virginia New Majority, a citizens’ group that supports “the progressive transformation of Virginia,” said the commonwealth went down this road last year. In 2012, the General Assembly passed laws increasing the identification requirements to vote – and is considering more this year.
“Voter suppression bills” are “bad for democracy and bad for Virginia,” Nguyen said at a press conference Thursday. She said these bills largely affect the elderly, African-Americans, Latinos and new citizens.