Voter Identification

Both houses of the General Assembly have advanced bills to require Virginia voters to cast provisional ballots instead of official ballots if they cannot produce identification at the polls.  Each chamber has previously passed its own version of the bill.

The House amended the Senate bill to enable local boards to compare provisional ballot signatures with those on file.  The Senate revised the House bill to require provisional voters to supply an ID by fax, e-mail, mail, or in person to count those votes.  Senator Chap Peterson did not like any version but said the House bill was better.

“If somebody came in and signed a document that they could match that up with the signature on file, much as when you negotiate a check—so at least there was a self-correcting mechanism that didn’t require a whole new visit to the polls or to the registrar’s office by that voter in order for their vote to count,” said Peterson.

Senator Mark Obenshain said comparing signatures might not prevent fraud… and the bill allows many types of IDs to confirm identities, including all government-issued cards.

“Any valid student card, any valid employee identification card, a copy of a utility bill, a copy of a bank statement, a government check, or a paycheck,” said Obenshain.

The Senate passed the bill, but it now must go back to the House and won’t head to the Governor unless the difference is resolved.

–Anne Marie Morgan

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