Voters in Virginia will be required to bring photo identification to the polls beginning next year.
Gov. Bob McDonnell signed an election bill Tuesday that his fellow Republicans said was a safeguard against voter fraud. Democrats bitterly denounced the legislation as a Jim Crow-era tactic to suppress the votes of the elderly, minorities and the underprivileged.
“While we all want elections to ‘protect the sanctity of our democratic process’, there is nothing inherently wrong with the system now," stated Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) Chair Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton). "This is merely a continuation of attempts by Republicans to suppress the vote of individuals who are not likely to support their right wing agenda. ... Arguing non-existent voter fraud, this legislation is a solution in search of a problem.”
The legislation provides for a free valid ID with the bearer's photo to any registered voter who lacks one. However, the VLBC argued in a statement of concern that the legislation does not specify what identification is needed to receive the valid free ID.
Along with signing the legislation, McDonnell issued an executive order directing the State Board of Elections to implement a public education program to tell voters about the new requirement before the 2014 congressional and U.S. Senate elections.