A bill that would require voters who show up at the polls without identification to cast provisional ballots is headed to the House floor after being lambasted by Democrats in a committee hearing Friday. On a 16-6 vote, the Committee on Privileges and Elections advanced House Bill 9, sponsored by Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, the committee’s chairman. The legislation would alter existing law, which allows anyone who claims to be a registered voter to cast a regular ballot, even without proper identification. All but one Democrat on the committee, Del. Johnny S. Joannou, D-Portsmouth, opposed the change, claiming it could suppress the votes of minorities as well as the elderly, the young and the poor. “There’s no way humanly possible that I can support this bill,” said Del. Algie T. Howell Jr., D-Norfolk. “I don’t know why we have this bill in front of us if we don’t have documented cases of voter fraud or problems at the polling place,” added Del. Kenneth C. Alexander, D-Norfolk.
Republicans argued that the bill is a common-sense solution to a problem with the existing law. Del. Robert B. Bell, R-Albemarle, asked a representative from the State Board of Elections what would happen under current law if 15 people all voted under the same name, even after the name was crossed off the list.
“Under the letter of the law, I believe those individuals would be permitted to vote on the voting equipment at the polling place,” replied Justin Riemer, deputy secretary at the elections board. “Those votes are counted.” Riemer noted that someone without ID claiming to be a person who has already voted would be “challenged” on the issue, and forced to sign an affidavit swearing to be that person, but could still ultimately vote.