Virginia’s voter identification policy will become tougher than it currently is if Del. Mark Cole has his druthers. Cole wants to remove several forms of ID now accepted for voting based on his belief that the recently revised law doesn’t do enough to thwart potential voter fraud. The Republican legislator would like the General Assembly to strike provisions that allow voters to present a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or pay stub with an address as valid ID at the polls. “Those never should have been added to the list of acceptable IDs,” said Cole, of Spotsylvania County.
Cole’s original legislation, HB9, from earlier this year didn’t permit those forms; they were added in the state Senate and became part of the final law. “I think we need to tighten it up,” Cole said of the statute, noting that his preference is for a photo ID law in Virginia, though he thinks that could be cost-prohibitive. Other presently accepted forms of identification include state voter cards, driver’s licenses or other government-issued ID cards, Social Security cards and Virginia college student IDs.
Already, Cole’s HB1337 is coming under fire from voter-rights groups. “Virginia’s existing voter ID law strikes a good balance between addressing concerns legislators and voters have about election integrity,” said Katie O’Connor, a staff attorney with the Advancement Project. “We don’t need to be playing politics with the right to vote.”