by Hope Amezquita, Staff Attorney
Tuesday is Election Day and Virginia’s first statewide test of the voter photo ID law, which requires all voters to show an approved, valid photo ID to cast their votes. Because we’re concerned that the photo ID requirement may prevent some eligible voters from casting their ballot, we’ve set up a hotline to answer questions and fix problems voters may encounter at the polls and have prepared volunteers to monitor polls throughout the Commonwealth. We hope that local general registrars and state officials are getting ready too.
As we’ve met with Virginians in the lead up to this election, one question keeps popping up: What other types of photo IDs are acceptable for voting? The law states that any photo ID card issued from the federal government, Virginia, or local (or political) subdivision is acceptable for voting. Both private and public employee photo IDs are permissible too. But, as we’ve learned over the past few months, there are many different types of photo IDs floating around Virginia that may look official, but may not be acceptable for voting.
Some of the types of photo IDs we’ve encountered, such as Social Services’ photo IDs or assisted-living facility photo IDs, look like they’ve been issued by a local government agency, but voters were unsure. The answer usually requires a lot of digging around to find out if the photo ID was issued by a local or political subdivision in Virginia. Lesser known forms of photo IDs issued from Virginia or the federal government exist, but still may be questioned by poll workers who are unfamiliar with them. Another example is employee photo IDs. Is a retiree photo ID from your former employer acceptable? Possibly---depending if the photo ID clearly states that it’s an employee photo ID.
Ultimately, voters need to consult their local general registrar and the Department of Elections for an answer. The answer will likely require a lot of research into the photo ID in question and may require a subjective judgment on the part of an election official, something that a citizen’s fundamental right to vote should never rest on.
We’re working hard to make sure every voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot and to have that vote counted. If you don’t have an acceptable, valid photo ID yet, you can go to your general registrar’s office to get a FREE temporary voter photo ID---even on Election Day.
If you don’t have a photo ID when you go to your precinct on Election Day, make sure poll workers offer you a provisional ID ballot to vote. If you cast a provisional ballot then you must follow-up with your general registrar by Noon on Friday, November 7, 2014, with a valid photo ID. You can even get a FREE temporary photo ID at your general registrar’s office until the deadline at Noon on Friday, November 7.
We want voters to know that we’re here to help voters on Election Day with any problems or questions. We also want to hear stories about your voting experience if you encounter a photo ID problem. Please share our hotline you’re your family, friends, and neighbors. Call our hotline at 1-800-678-9885 or email us at!
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