by Elizabeth Wong, Associate Director

Passage of Virginia's new law requiring all voters to show identification at the polls is bound to cause some confusion on Election Day, November 6, 2012.  However, the State Board of Elections and voting rights' advocacy groups, including the ACLU, are working hard to ensure that the elections are fair and votes are counted.
The easiest way to be sure your vote is counted is to confirm your voter registration status before October 15 (the deadline to register to vote) and to present ID when you vote.
Here's a list of acceptable forms of identification to satisfy the new voter ID law:
  • Virginia voter registration card-- the State Board of Elections will be sending every registered voter a new card prior to Election Day.
  • Any valid and current federal, Virginia state, or local government-issued ID (for example, Virginia driver's license, state ID, or other government ID),
  • Military ID
  • Employer-issued photo ID card
  • Valid student ID issued by any institution of higher education in Virginia
  • Concealed handgun permit
  • A current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the voter's name and address
  • Social Security Card (is not an acceptable ID for certain first-time voters, see below)
Because this is a federal election year, the federal voting laws under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) also apply.  There are special federal ID requirements for certain first-time voters.  If you meet the following criteria, then the special ID rules apply to you:
  • This is the first time you are voting in a federal election;
  • You registered to vote by mail; AND
  • You did not provide a copy of one of these ID's with your voter registration application

▪    A current and valid photo ID ▪     a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck that shows your name and address; or ▪     another government document that shows your name and address

Many forms of identification that satisfy the new Virginia voter ID law (see above) will also be acceptable for first-time voters under HAVA.  The one notable exception is the Social Security card because it does not show the voter's name and address.
What happens if you show up to the polls without your ID? We suggest that if time allows, you get your ID and return to the polls.  If you do not have enough time to get your ID, then you will have to cast a special “ID-only” provisional ballot.  Election officials will then provide you with written instructions on how and where to submit a copy of your identification so that your vote will be counted.
You will have until noon on Friday, November 9, to make sure that a copy of your ID is received by your electoral board.  This proof of ID can be submitted via fax, email, in person or through the U.S. Postal Service or other commercial postage service.
Are you interested in learning more about your voting rights?  Read our voting rights flyer, which includes information about registering to vote, restoring voting rights, and absentee voting in addition to answering common questions on Election Day.
Do you want to help educate Virginia voters?  The ACLU of Virginia, in partnership with the NAACP Virginia State Conference, is distributing Voters' Rights cards in English and Spanish to any and all interested organizations, individuals, and political parties (regardless of affiliation) who request them.  If you would like to order voters' rights cards to distribute to your networks, contact us via email at acluva[at]
Together, we can protect the right to vote and uphold the principle of one person, one vote.