Gov. Bob McDonnell has decided to let controversial legislation to tighten voter-identification policies become law, but he’s also ordering state election officials to send every registered Virginia voter a new voter-ID card. The move by the governor enables him to satisfy Republican demands for election safeguards while blunting criticism that the state is imposing barriers to voter participation. McDonnell on Friday said he signed two bills – SB 1 and HB 9 – to increase the forms of acceptable ID “while helping to further prevent voter fraud and ensuring Virginians that they can have faith that votes have not been fraudulently cast.” Friday was the deadline for him to act on the legislation.
The governor’s accompanying executive order, which in addition to the voter-ID cards calls for a public education campaign about the new law, might help the changes pass muster with the U.S. Justice Department. The federal agency already has blocked enforcement of more stringent photo-ID statutes in South Carolina and Texas, Southern states also covered by the Voting Rights Act, due to concerns that they could disenfranchise certain voters.