Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed legislation requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls. He will also issue an executive order directing the state Board of Elections to implement a campaign to educate the public on the changes and to help them obtain a photo ID before the 2014 election. The legislation allows for a free photo ID for those who need a valid photo identification. In his executive order, McDonnell says Virginia has “long required” voters to bring valid ID to the polls in order to cast a vote and that federal law has required ID for certain first-time voters in federal elections for almost a decade. “These efforts have made our electoral system less subject to fraud, but we must continue to look for ways to further address any vulnerabilities in our system,” the executive order states.
The Senate bill “continues that mission, providing a process for individuals to obtain free photo identification cards and requiring that acceptable identification with a photo of the voter be provided on Election Day in order to vote.”
“We must maintain the provisional ballot safeguard for individuals who fail to present proper documentation at the polling place,” the order continues. “Maintaining the provisional ballot provides an opportunity to present identification to local electoral boards by multiple means of transmission after the election.”
Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, sponsored the bill. “Critics said it couldn’t get through a divided Senate,” said Obenshain, a candidate for attorney general. “Skeptics predicted that the governor would veto it. But today, Virginia joins the growing ranks of states requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls.” The U.S. Department of Justice will have to approve the proposal before it would become law in 2014.