Governor McDonnell set to make decision on voter ID in Virginia

Last month, instead of signing the voter ID bill, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell sent it back to the legislature for several amendments, with mixed results:

McDonnell amended the bills to add any college identification, including two-year schools. The House and Senate signed off on that change when it reconvened this week to pass a budget and consider McDonnell’s seven vetoes and amendments he made to more than 100 bills.

But the General Assembly balked at another change McDonnell had proposed for the bills. Under that amendment, a vote cast without ID would get counted if the signature on the provisional ballot matched the one on the voter’s registration record.

Now voter ID is back before Governor McDonnell, and this time he must decide whether to sign or veto a bill that is clearly part of the Right Wing agenda. ALEC Exposed reports that the lead sponsor of the original Senate version, Stephen Martin (R-11), is ALEC’s Virginia Chair, and the lead sponsor of its House companion, Mark Cole (R-88), is also affiliated with ALEC.

A recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch further exemplifies how politics have colored the debate. While it relies heavily on reports of widespread voter fraud in Virginia, it minimizes what the Virginian-Pilot pointed out in its editorial – that this fraud would not be addressed by the current voter ID legislation. As Delegate Joe Morrissey makes clear in his letter to the editor:

HB9 was what we in the General Assembly call a solution looking for a problem. Why, when there has not been one single incident of voter identification fraud in the past four years, would we need to spend our precious time in the General Assembly debating and passing a voter identification bill?

Joataka Eaddy, Senior Director of the NAACP Voting Right Initiative, and Rev. Nathaniel Young, President of the NAACP's Virginia State Conference, have also responded with letters to the editor.

For more information, check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.

PFAW Foundation