News broke this morning that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill which will require all voters in Virginia to present a photo ID to vote. The law, which will go into effect in 2014, will be the second drastic voter ID change in the Commonwealth in the span of three years if it is implemented.
Governor McDonnell, who earlier this year made headlines urging the Republican controlled General Assembly to automatically restore the rights of felons to vote in Virginia, has proven he is not focused on expanding or protecting the right to vote through signing this bill.
Republican members of the North Carolina General Assembly held a press conference this morning outlining their plans to formulate and pass a photo voter ID bill. GOP leadership laid out a slow approach, stating that they do not expect to file an actual bill until at least March 25th, following weeks of testimony on the issue.
Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State claimed last week that it would implement a “simplified method to obtain photo ID for Pennsylvania-born voters,” but observers in the state are expressing skepticism about how easy the process will be.
Over the past year, there has been a lot of discussion about requiring a photo ID to vote. Proponents of voter photo ID laws often cite that showing photo ID’s are required for all activities, including flying, buying Sudafed, checking out a library book, opening a bank account, cashing a cash, renting a movie, buying a beer, obtaining a social security card, or signing up for public assistance.
The Virginia legislature and Governor have had a recent back and forth about what the state’s voter ID law should look like. The basis for introducing the legislation was to protect Virginia’s elections from “fraud.” Yes, there you have it – the F word. Fraud or the perception of fraud is almost always the reason given for enacting strict photo ID laws.
With the exit of Pennsylvania native Rick Santorum from the Republican primary, today’s primary election in Pennsylvania has dropped slightly in the headlines. Despite this, today’s election ushers in a major change for Pennsylvania voters.
The issue of strict photo ID laws has been a very contentious one in the past few years. Proponents of these laws claim they are necessary to deter alleged fraud and ensure confidence in the system. However, in-person voter impersonation fraud (the only type that a strict ID law could prevent) is essentially non-existant.
Today, the Michigan legislature is holding a hearing on the Safe and Fair Elections Initiative that would restrict community-based voter registration, require photo IDs, and require voters to answer a citizenship question in order to vote.