One of the most remarkable things about voting where I do, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is that no one asks you for identification: Who you are is based on trust. But that charming civic experience may not be long for this world. Although several voter ID provisions were struck down before the 2016 election, an appeals court has now upheld Virginia’s law — and in essence provided a road map for how states can require ID without violating the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution. The law upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit resembles the laws struck down by other courts. Enacted in 2013, the law, known as S.B. 1256, requires voters to show ID, allowing them to cast provisional ballots if they don’t have it with them and to “cure” their ballots by presenting valid ID up to three days later. The state also accepts many forms of ID. What makes the law a little different from some others is that, if a voter lacks ID, the state board of elections has to issue one free — even if the voter shows up to the board without any documentation.
You could imagine a court finding that the ease of getting an ID from the board of elections weakens the state’s claim that it’s simply trying to reduce voter fraud. But that’s not the way the case went.
A federal district court found that S.B. 1256 didn’t run afoul of the Voting Rights Act or the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, because it didn’t have a disparate effect based on race or proceed from racially discriminatory intent. The 4th Circuit upheld both findings.
The plaintiffs in the case tried to prove racial disparity. Like plaintiffs in other voter ID cases, they started by showing that there’s little evidence of voter fraud in Virginia — a reason to doubt the law’s stated intent.
Full Article: Virginia Cracks the Code on Voter ID Laws – Bloomberg View.