For the second General Assembly session in a row, the fight over voter identification is creating tension in Richmond. Though Democrats say ID’s caused few problems in the 2012 elections, Republicans say changes must still be made to protect voter integrity in the commonwealth. Two bills, on their way to the floors of the House and Senate, take last year’s approved list of ID and whittle it down. House Bill 1337 and Senate Bill 719 would remove “a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter” from the list of acceptable polling place identification.
A different measure, carried by Harrisonburg Sen. Mark Obenshain, would go a step further, requiring photo identification at the polls. A similar house bill, championed by Albemarle Del. Rob Bell – who is also, coincidentally, Obenshain’s opponent for the Republican party’s attorney general nomination – died earlier this week in a House of Delegates committee. He believes such a measure can help crack down on potential forgery and voter fraud.
“The best way, if you want to make sure that the person in front of you is the person they say they are, is to have a true, no excuses photo ID,” Bell said.
Though his bill was not backed by committee, he says reducing the types of acceptable ID is a step in the right direction. “[HB 1337] will simply say that you can’t use some of the worst forms of ID that are currently allowed,” Bell said. “The things that have no photo and no verification.”