Richmond, VA-  Concerning the Governor’s actions related to voter ID legislation, SB 1256, the following statement can be attributed to Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, ACLU of Virginia Executive Director:

The ACLU of Virginia is extremely disappointed that Governor Bob McDonnell has chosen to sign legislation requiring photo ID at the polls for all voters.  There is no evidence of need for such legislation, particularly after the Commonwealth enacted an enhanced ID requirement last year. There is not one case of voter impersonation fraud in Virginia, the only voter fraud that photo ID at the polls addresses.

This legislation has the potential to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible voters throughout the state, and is likely to disproportionately impact voters who are elderly, low-income, racial or ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and students.  It will also impose new and unnecessary costs on taxpayers who will foot the bill for new equipment and personnel needed to make free photo IDs available to voters who don’t have one and the extensive public education campaigns needed to address the confusion that will surely result from changing our ID requirements again.

It is not yet clear to us how exactly this law will be implemented or funded. The money in the budget is not enough to fund the free photo ID program or the education program mandated by Executive Order 62 issued by the Governor at the same time he announced that he was signing the bill. Because Virginia is subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice must still provide pre-clearance of the law before it can take effect.  While we are considering all options, we will be advocating that the State Board of Elections use an open process in which the public can participate as it adopts rules specifying how voters can obtain a free photo ID under this new law.

We also await the Governor’s action on HB 1337, legislation concerning valid identification at the polls that is in conflict with SB 1256, and SB 1077, which requires the Virginia State Board of Elections to utilize the SAVE immigration database to verify citizenship of voters.

ACLU of Virginia Contact: Claire G. Gastañaga, Executive Director, 804-644-8022

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