Justice Department signs off on Virginia voter ID law
August 20th, 2012
11:01 PM ET
2 years ago

Justice Department signs off on Virginia voter ID law

(CNN) – In the midst of a heated national debate over voter identification laws nationwide, the Justice Department approved Monday of Virginia's new voter identification law.

Virginia's new law requires voters to present a valid form of identification at the polls. Otherwise, voters can cast a provisional ballot and later present an ID within a few days following Election Day for their vote to count.

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The law also expands the types of identification acceptable to vote, some of which do not require a photo of the voter.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Virginia's law had to be precleared by the Justice Department before taking effect.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the legislation into law in late May.

"Protecting against voter fraud and making sure our elections are secure are critical for confidence in our democracy," said McDonnell in a statement about the pre-clearance Monday. "The legislation I signed into law is a practical and reasonable step to make our elections more secure while also ensuring access to the ballot box for all qualified voters."

The law, in part, requires the issuance of a voter card, considered a valid state ID, to registered voters in the state prior to Election Day.

Pending voter ID laws in several states have ignited a heated debate over potential impact on voter turnout.

The Virginia law's pre-clearance comes after a Pennsylvania judge upheld a much stricter and more controversial voter law in the state last week.

Pennsylvania's new law requires voters to present a government issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot. A coalition of Pennsylvania civil rights groups has filed an appeal.

Critics of voter ID laws say they discriminate against minorities who may not have proper identification.

Virginia is considered a battleground state in November's presidential election and voter turnout is thought to be key in President Barack Obama's re-election effort in the state. In 2008, then-senator Obama took Virginia by six points over rival Sen. John McCain. The state is thought to be an even closer battle in 2012.

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Filed under: 2012 • Bob McDonnell • Virginia
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. CL38

    Is the Justice Department out of it's mind??? These laws are based on false claims of voter fraud!

    August 20, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    This is fraught with the danger that people who are casting a provisional vote may not know or be told that unless they receive are given a form that says it's provisional until you produce ID or do X within Y days after voting. What are they going to do announce a provisional result and indicate the number of provisional votes requiring validation. No they wont they will announce on valid votes and hope it discourages provisional voters from the follow up needed.
    It remains a disgrace.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    August 21, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  3. spanglish

    That the way is suppose to be it will diminish the possibility of fraud. Also the ballots should only in English if a person is a citizen should be able to understand the written English. We are in US we speak English not other language

    August 21, 2012 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  4. NikoEsquire

    Wow! Virginia got something right. It's my home state, so I am truly surprised!!

    August 21, 2012 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  5. Phil Thomas

    I support Voter ID laws but this is pure disenfranchisement....I hope this backfires on the GOP, I have to believe Americans want to protect their civil liberties. As for those who say its easy to get ID, trust me its not if your in a lower middle class or poor community, this effects older people. The way it was launched, some states like Florida in particular. Its things like this that are making me support Dems in this election. I can't reward these idiots and I hope more people do the same

    August 21, 2012 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  6. Get Real

    For crying out loud, if you have to show ID to buy beer, get married, get a hotel room, attend a political rally, who is stupid enough to think you should not have to show ID to vote???? I can't believe this is even an issue.

    August 21, 2012 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  7. T'sah From Virginia

    I have to go to work and will be on this all day if I was able – McDonnell is a JERK and this is going to HURT them in November – we are quiet but STRONG!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!!

    August 21, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  8. John Vance

    I lean liberal on most issues but I simply cannot see a problem with requiring a solid ID to vote.

    August 21, 2012 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    With the Motor-Voter laws, why don't they have DMV pictures by each voter's name. That would end the need to have people carry this.

    August 21, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  10. Dave Joynt

    Article would have been more substantive if the types of identifcation were more clearly identified and contrasted with the Pa law.

    August 21, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  11. Donkey Party

    The only people guilty of committing voter fraud, is the domestic terrorist GOP.

    August 21, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  12. Pete

    Has Virginia gone around to nursing homes,convalescent centers to get seniors ,disabled,shutins,that don't drive or have transportation, the chance to get an ID,of course not,that's votes the GOP can afford to do without..Seniors,the disabled,shutins aren't informed , don't have that freedom and the righteous republicans won't give it to them either after comments like that about rape came out,seniors know about their white extreme counterparts ..The state could get volunteers to get IDs available but that would be counterproductive because they'd vote against the republicans in their districts and they know it,seniors,disabled voices are never heard,just silenced its easier cheaper that way,who cares what they say...AARP,USAA should get out in force not only to register but to sit down and inform our disabled,seniors what these rightwing extremists are really all about,its their lives and programs that will ultimitly be changed if nothing is done about it,quit being stupid republicans never cared for these people so why now,hypocrites they all are and they know it just ask Ann Romney and her husband ,we're all small minded people aren't we that question their motives or past taxes ,enough said,republicans are pathedic!!

    August 21, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  13. PaMom

    How about a photo ID? anyone can present paperwork. how about the justice dept prosecute intimidation by black panthers at the polls?

    August 21, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. w l jones

    The justice Department should watch out for registering people both as a Democratic and Republican when they vote one cancel out the other there by no vote.

    August 21, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |