Virginia lawmakers on Wednesday adopted a strict photo identification requirement for voters, a contentious issue nationally in last year’s presidential election. The Republican-dominated House of Delegates approved a bill passed earlier by the State Senate to require voters to show a government-issued document like a driver’s license, passport or special voter-identification card with a photograph at the polls. If signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, Virginia would join four other states with equally strict voter-ID requirements. A similar law in Pennsylvania was temporarily suspended by a state court before the November election. Attempts by Texas and South Carolina to adopt such strict requirements have been turned back by the federal government as violations of the Voting Rights Act. Supporters of voter photo-ID requirements say they prevent fraud. Opponents argue that the laws are meant to suppress turnout by poor and minority voters.
Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan, a Democrat, told a story on the House floor of how her great-grandfather had to pass a literacy test and then find three white men “to vouch for him” before being allowed to register to vote.
“That is why any bill that places any barrier to someone exercising their fundamental right to vote is anathema to many citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia, who fought and were terrorized and in some cases died to exercise that right,” she said.
But supporters of the bill say that it would guarantee the integrity of the vote and that its requirements could be easily met. Government-issued identification is already needed to receive Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, said Delegate Jackson Miller, a Republican.
Full Article: Virginia Passes Photo-ID Voting Requirement – NYTimes.com.