Six days before Virginia’s new voter ID law goes into effect, the State Board of Elections essentially froze one of the law’s key regulations. Earlier this month, the board had determined that expired but otherwise valid forms of identification permitted under Virginia’s new photo voter ID law will be accepted at the polls. But after the sponsor of the photo ID law — Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg — voiced his concern with this regulation, the board in a meeting Tuesday voted to re-open the public comment period for an additional 21 days and explore whether the agency has legal authority to determine what forms of ID are valid. In a June 16 letter to board members, Obenshain wrote that he is concerned that the definition of “valid” that was adopted by the board conflicts with state law.
“The Code of Virginia … requires that a voter shows … a valid Virginia identification card. The State Board, by regulation, now defines expired IDs — regardless of how much time has transpired since their expiration — as being expressly ‘valid,’ which, to my thinking, violates the plain meaning of the statute,” Obenshain wrote.
The board had reached the decision to define what forms of ID will be accepted at the polls after hearing concerns that the only photo identification in the possession of some voters — especially the elderly — might be an expired driver’s license or passport.
Even after deciding Tuesday to reconsider this new, regulation, the three board members still said they believe that expired IDs should be allowed.