Home Virginia Politics Voter ID Requirements Do Differ

Voter ID Requirements Do Differ


Someone pulled aside or asked for something you don’t have? If you are at your normal polling place and have one of the forms of identification listed here, not to worry. But first time voters require a different standard. Know what you need so you don’t have to vote provisionally.

Don’t go righteous if you hear a photo ID being suggested as a form of ID. Understand that each voter is an individual case and a photo ID satisfies a special situation. There is no evidence the people working inside the polls, the election officials, are a source of voter suppression.

Remember that the voter registration card is everything you need. Don’t cast a provisional ballot. (But if you must, make certain you validate your vote by this Friday.) Some odd situations: If you requested an absentee ballot and didn’t vote absentee, you’ll have to go through a drill. But you can vote. If you didn’t change your registration after a move, you can still vote in your old precinct if you voted there last general election. In either case, vote.

When someone requests an absentee ballot and a ballot was mailed to them, they will be marked on the rolls as already voted. If they did not cast their absentee ballot they can either present the ballot at the polling place and say they want to vote, or, if it was never received or it was lost, they can go to the central absentee precinct to vote.

The election officials at the polling place will have a record that tells them whether an absentee ballot has been a voted ballot, nothing’s been received, or if an unmarked ballot has been returned. The registrars, with rare exceptions, are reliable arbiters in these cases and election officials have been trained in this drill. So if you failed to vote absentee, you can vote tomorrow.

The trend during absentee balloting was that voters were showing up with multiple forms of identification. Registrars are hoping that continues tomorrow. But it is not only identification that can cause an issue. There may be cases where the officials cannot find the voter on the poll book. Sometimes registrations don’t get changed. Often persons who changed their registrations at DMV find themselves in this situation for whatever reason. They can vote provisionally and the registrar will attempt to run down their registrations. But note this: If you moved since the last general election and forgot to change your registration, you are allowed to go back to your former precinct and vote once.

Another nuance is for persons who registered through third parties or through the mail, where no official has ever seen them in person. Federal law requires these first time voters to offer specific identification in order to vote. Fortunately the voter registration card which they should have received works as the necessary identification. If not, here are the acceptable types of ID:

    Special Federal ID Requirements for Certain First Time Voters

  • A current and valid photo ID (for example a driver’s license);
  • or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck that shows name and address;
  • or another government document that shows name and address (for example a voter card).

Note that a social security card which satisfies Virginia does not satisfy federal ID requirements. So don’t be surprised if there is some confusion tomorrow. OFA has promised a lawyer or voter protection representative at every precinct. Unless you are trained, if you observe something, find out the facts and seek out assistance if the explanation doesn’t satisfy you. Unnecessary disruptions inside the polls will will suppress the vote.


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