Gov. Bob McDonnell faces a tough choice on legislation to tighten requirements for voter identification: veto the bill after his attempt to soften it failed, or let it reshape election law without his preferred modifications. McDonnell has said he’s concerned that the bill, in its present form, could “disenfranchise people whose votes would have otherwise counted.” As written, the legislation would require voters without valid identification to cast a provisional ballot. They would then have to confirm their identity with election officials for the ballot to count. The General Assembly last week rejected McDonnell’s key amendments, which would have given election officials the authority to verify identities by comparing provisional ballot signatures to voter registration signatures.
The State Board of Elections offered money to help localities obtain computer equipment needed to analyze voter signatures. But local voter registrars balked at that idea, as did the legislature when it defeated McDonnell’s amendments.
Current law permits voters who lack ID to cast a regular ballot after signing a statement, under penalty of law, asserting they are legally entitled to vote. Efforts to strike that from state code and replace it with a list of acceptable IDs, and the provisional ballot rule inspired intense debate during the General Assembly session.