Voter identification restrictions edged one step closer to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk Friday as the Senate approved a measure that would shorten the list of voter IDs acceptable on the polls that went into effect last year. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling broke a tie for Republicans in the evenly divided chamber on a House of Delegates measure that would take utility bills, bank statements, government issued checks or paychecks, student IDs and concealed carry permits off the list of identification voters can use to prove who they are. Like he did on the Senate version of the bill, Bolling also broke a tie in favor of Democrats on an amendment that would push back the effective date of the measure to July 1, 2014, and make enactment dependent on funding in next year’s budget plan for a voter education campaign. Because the measure was amended it must go back to the House for its approval before heading to the governor.
Virginia: Redistricting, electoral shuffle, voter ID bills aimed at boosting sagging GOP prospects in Virginia | The Washington Post
Virginia’s not the only electoral battleground with a Republican-ruled legislature where President Barack Obama mopped up last year en route to re-election. But it is the first to act on an ambitious menu of Republican legislation aimed at preventing another Democratic triumph. The result beckons partisan paralysis of the state Senate and a budget stalemate for the second consecutive year and the death of important education and transportation reforms. The long-term consequences, however, are more sobering. First, let’s review. Democrats turned out in huge numbers in Virginia last fall despite the state’s brand new voter identification law, creating waiting lines of four hours or more at some jammed polling places. So this year, Republicans propose even tougher identification standards, including one bill that would compel voters to present photo identification.
The secret plan began unfolding about two weeks ago. Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. went to Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling with a way to redraw Senate districts and make them more favorable to Republicans. But Bolling rejected the idea, fearing that it would set a bad precedent, according to two people familiar with the meeting but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Bolling, who would be needed to break a tie vote in the evenly divided Senate, also thought the move would so inflame partisan passions that lawmakers would lose sight of such priorities as transportation and education. It presented itself on Inauguration Day, when Virginia Democrats basked in their second straight presidential win and one in particular traveled to Washington to witness President Obama’s swearing-in: Sen. Henry L. Marsh III (D-Richmond).
A key Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday it was “shameful” for Virginia Republicans to take advantage of his absence to push a redistricting plan through the state Senate. State Sen. Henry Marsh III is one of 20 Democratic members of the state Senate, which is currently evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. His attendance at President Obama’s second inauguration Monday — held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — allowed Republicans to push though their plan by a vote of 20-19. “I was outraged and I was saddened yesterday afternoon to learn that the Senate Republicans had used my absence to force through radical changes to all 40 Senate districts,” Marsh, a 79-year-old civil rights veteran, said in a statement Tuesday. “I wanted to attend the historic second inauguration of President Obama in person. For Senate Republicans to use my absence to push through a partisan redistricting plan that hurts voters across the state is shameful.”