A federal judge on Thursday upheld Virginia’s voter- identification requirement, dealing a blow to a national push by Democrats to remove laws they say disenfranchise minority and poor voters. Republicans applauded the decision as “a victory for the integrity of Virginia’s elections,” while Democrats called it a disappointment and said they may appeal. If the lawsuit ultimately succeeds, it could give Democrats an edge in the presidential race in a swing state with a recent spate of close elections. In his 62-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson rejected the argument that a photo-ID requirement was “arbitrary and unfair” and severely burdened voters who tend to favor Democratic candidates.
“Virginia has provided all of its citizens with an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process,” with the availability of in-person voting, absentee voting, provisional ballots and free IDs, he wrote.
“Mindful that the Court’s mission is to judge not the wisdom of the Virginia voter ID law, but rather its constitutionality,” the law does not violate the Voting Rights Act or any amendments, he wrote.
The challenge was brought by two activists and the state Democratic Party. They were represented by Marc E. Elias, who is general counsel to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and has worked for Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D).