For the third time in recent years, Virginia voters will face new voter ID requirements when they go to the polls this November. Virginia’s new photo ID law, which went in to effect on July 1, was a long time coming. The law, sponsored by Senator Mark Obenshain, was passed in the 2013 legislative session but is only now being fully implemented. Despite over a year of time to plan, one of the largest questions still has to be answered: what IDs will actually serve as voter ID? At a State Board of Elections (SBE) hearing on June 10, board members heard testimony from community groups, voters, and county registrars (the people tasked with enforcing this ID standard at the polls).
After registrars stated an expiration date does not aid or hinder the ability of an election officer to determine that a voter is who is pictured on an ID, the exact purpose of the new photo ID law, the board voted to only take into consideration a voters name, picture and the authenticity of an ID when deciding whether an ID is “valid.” There was no testimony offered in support of requiring only unexpired IDs to serve as photo ID for voting purposes.
Following the approval of this regulation by the SBE, Senator Obenshain wrote to the board questioning their authority to define “valid” for implementation of the ID law and urging the board to reverse their decision. The letter makes clear that Senator Obenshain believes only IDs which serve their intended purpose outside of voting (driving or traveling internationally in the case of driver’s licenses and passports), and are therefore unexpired, should be eligible for voter ID purposes.