Research shows that the Washington Post, WTOP Radio, the Daily Press, and perhaps many other media outlets have misled voters to believe ID is required to vote in all instances.RICHMOND , VA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia is asking media outlets across the state to correctly state the requirements for voter identification at the polls in Virginia.
Voter guides appearing in the Washington Post and the Daily Press and on the WTOP Radio website incorrectly say that all Virginia voters must show an ID to vote. The ACLU does not know how many other media outlets have misstated the Virginia law, but is asking all of them to review their voter guides to make certain the information on voter IDs is accurate.
“Certainly having an ID will make the voting process go more smoothly,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “But the vast majority of Virginia voters can still vote even if they have lost their ID or forgotten to bring it with them to the polls.”
“The number one complaint we receive on Election Day is from people turned away at the polls for failing to produce an ID,” added Willis. “We have always blamed the problem on poorly trained election officials and the State Board of Elections’ poorly phrased interpretation of the law, but this year they seem to be aided and abetted by the news media.”
“We’re hoping that websites will be corrected immediately and that voter information guides appearing in tomorrow morning’s newspapers will get this right,” said Willis.
According to the ACLU, Virginia voters who go to the polls without ID may cast a regular ballot by signing an "Affirmation of Identity Statement." (Virginia Code, Section 24.2-643.)
The only voters who are required to show identification at the polls are those to whom all three of the following conditions apply: First, they are voting for the first time in a federal election. Second, they registered by mail on or after January 2003. And third, they did not provide an ID when they registered. Even these voters may cast "provisional ballots," meaning their vote will be counted if they bring a proper ID to the registrar's office by the end of business on the day after Election Day.
The ACLU of Virginia Election Day hotline number is 804/644-8080. The ACLU of Virginia has operated an Election Day hotline for the last dozen years.
Contact: Kent Willis, 804/644-8022