House Democrats vote to remove Virginia's photo ID requirement for voting
Virginia's House of Delegates has passed a bill that would remove Virginia's requirement to show a photo ID in order to vote.
passed on a 57-43 vote on Feb. 11, which is known as 'Crossover Day' – the final day for any proposed bills to make it out of the chamber (Senate or House of Delegates) where the bill was introduced.
Under the proposed change in law, Virginia voting requirements would revert to a similar standard as in the years before the photo ID law was signed by former Governor Bob McDonnell.
Voters would be able to show voter registration documents, bank statements, paychecks or any government document that shows the name and address of the voter.
Voters who do not show valid identification when signing in to vote would be required to sign a sworn affidavit stating that they they are who they claim to be. The signed statement subjects the person to Class 5 felony penalties if the statement is false.
A voter who doesn't show photo ID or sign the statement can be given a provisional ballot.
Virginians currently must present a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or a U.S. passport, to vote in person. According to
, an organization that works to ensure all Americans can vote, approximately 7% of the U.S. population lacks photo ID. This is especially true of lower-income individuals, those under the age of 20 and ethnic minorities.
Voters can provide their social security number and other information to get a free Virginia Voter Photo Identification Card, but some legislators said that service is unknown to many.
“Before the photo ID requirement voters had to sign the affidavit to say they are who they say they are, and I think that was enough,” said House Majority Leader Del. Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria. “I feel the photo ID was a way to suppress the vote because not everyone has one.”
Former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell
mandating voters have a form of ID with a photograph. Virginia is one of the 18 states with such voting requirements, according to the National Conference of Legislature.
, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ID requirement after attorneys for the state Democratic Party challenged the law, arguing it had a disproportionate impact on low income and minority voters.
“People are fed up with our overly restrictive and racist voting policies, and the legislature is finally getting rid of some of the biggest roadblocks to progressive reform,” said Glass. “This has been a long time coming.”
Republicans quickly fired back against Democrats' passage of the bill on Tuesday, with House Republicans issuing the following statement:
The bill now advances to the Virginia Senate, where Democrats have narrower control. If it passes in the Senate, Gov. Ralph Northam has already expressed support for signing the bill into law.
The Capital News Service contributed to this article.