In the minds of some Republicans, the General Assembly didn’t go far enough last year when it approved tougher voting identification laws. Accordingly, several GOP lawmakers — Dels. Rob Bell and Mark Cole, and Sen. Mark Obenshain among them — are offering new voting measures for consideration by their legislative colleagues. Bell plans to sponsor a bill that would require voters to present a government-issued photo ID to vote, show proof of citizenship to obtain an ID, and let the state provide the necessary documents at no-cost to eligible voters who can’t afford them. “Everyone who’s eligible should vote on Election Day, but it’s important that we only count the ballots of citizens who have the right to vote,” said Bell, R-Albemarle County.
“Voting is how a free people govern themselves. It is the basis of self government, and it should not be debased by the votes of people who don’t have the right to vote,” he added.
Obenshain has pursued photo ID legislation since 2005 and this year said he’ll offer legislation facilitating the transfer of drivers’ license photos from the Department of Motor Vehicles to election officials to provide another layer of voter identity verification for local poll workers
That bill has been drafted but not yet introduced, said Obenshain, a Harrisonburg Republican who, like Bell, is seeking the GOP nomination for attorney general this year.
Meanwhile, Cole has pre-filed legislation that would strike from the law 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.