The voter ID laws passed in Virginia and other states this year and designed to limit the right of citizens to vote, especially groups that traditionally vote Democratic, have a common origin, the now-notorious American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. A task force of ALEC, the Public Safety and Elections Task Force, promoted a model law to limit voting through ID requirements. In Virginia, quite a few Republican legislators are a part of ALEC, including the ones who introduced the legislation.
Republicans Dave Albo, Beverly Sherwood, and Ben Cline were all members of the Public Safety and Elections Task Force. However, the legislation that ultimately passed and was signed by Bob McDonnell (who also has ties to ALEC) was introduced in the General Assembly by two other members of ALEC, Del. Mark Cole of Fredericksburg (Education Task Force) and Sen, Steve Martin of Chesterfield (Health and Human Services Task Force, which Martin chairs).
Several groups have begun working to insure the right to vote for some groups of Americans, especially minorities, the elderly, and young adults. One such group, VoteRiders, a non-partisan and non-profit organization, has launched a nationwide program, “Take a Friend to the DMV,” to help citizens get their voter IDs. The NAACP has also pledged to have a robust program to insure people’s right to vote. Programs are needed most in state like Texas and Pennsylvania, where citizens can only vote if they have a government-issued photo ID, a document that requires a person to also present a birth certificate.
There’s no question as to the motive behind the Pennsylvania law. The state Republican majority leader told a meeting of the Republican State Committee: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
In Virginia the law is far less draconian.
The Virginia law requires a person to present one of several forms of identification, including a Virginia Voter ID card, driver’s license, Social Security card, government-issued ID, photo ID from a place of employment, utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, government check or current Virginia college ID. McDonnell also directed state registrars to mail out new voter ID cards to all registered voters. (I haven’t received mine yet.)
Our job in Virginia is to be sure people understand the types of ID they must present at the polls. It’s hard to see how anyone could not have one of the acceptable forms of ID, but people need to be reminded over and over to bring documentation to the polls.