The Justice Department on Aug. 20 approved a Virginia voter identification law in time for November’s elections, a decision which closes a loophole allowing individuals to vote without identification.
The state’s law allows for a wide range of documentation to establish voters’ identities, unlike
stricter laws in Pennsylvania and Texas which have drawn criticism.
“It is welcome news that DOJ has recognized the compliance of this legislation with the Voting Rights Act,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement.
As a state with a history of discrimination against voters of color, Virginia has to get preclearance from the Justice Department before implementing changes in election laws.
“Protecting against voter fraud and making sure our elections are secure are critical for confidence in our democracy,” McDonnell said. “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.”
Previously, voters only had to sign a statement avowing their identity. Under the new law, voters have several options for proving their identity, some of which do not include a photo. Acceptable forms of identification include a military ID, concealed handgun permit, employer-issued photo ID, valid student ID issued by state college/university and current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the name and address of the voter.
McDonnell also issued an executive order directing the State Board of Elections to send every Virginia voter a voter card, a valid form of ID under state law, before Election Day.
Additionally, when someone votes without an ID, they can now vote provisionally and later present an approved ID to their local registrar through e-mail, fax, mail, or hand delivery.