Governor’s attempt to reduce impact of bill through executive order falls short

Richmond, VA -- The ACLU of Virginia today expressed dismay at Governor Bob McDonnell’s signing of a new law requiring Virginia voters to produce proof of identification at the polls or cast a provisional ballot.
McDonnell had attempted to amend the bill after it passed the House and Senate by allowing registrars to use a signature match in lieu of identification to determine the legitimacy of ballots.  But legislators rejected the governor’s amendment, leaving him with a choice of signing a bill he did not support or vetoing it.
Instead, the governor signed the bill and issued an executive order requiring new registration cards for all voters prior to the November elections and the collection of statistics to determine the impact of the bill on voters.
Critics of the bill, including the ACLU of Virginia, say that it will make voting more difficult in general and that it will have a disproportionate impact on minorities, the elderly and low-income persons, who are less likely to carry IDs.  In addition, the bill’s sole purpose is to fight voter impersonation fraud in Virginia, which by all accounts does not exist.
“The bill is still a bad bill that has no purpose other than to make it harder for everyone to vote in Virginia, but especially minorities, the elderly and low-income persons.
“We know the governor didn’t like the bill, which only deepens our disappointment in his decision to sign it,” added Willis.
Under Virginia’s existing law, voters without ID at the polls are allowed to sign a form affirming their identity and then cast a regular ballot.  It is a felony to lie on the form, and the penalty includes losing voting privileges for life without any possibility of reinstatement.  There is no history of anyone using the affirmation of identity form to commit voter fraud.  The new law takes effect July 1.

Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, 804-644-8022

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