Hundreds of thousands could lack an acceptable ID
As new photo voter ID requirements go into effect on July 1st, ProgressVA Education Fund is launchingwww.GotIDVirginia.org, a new voter education resource to help guide citizens and ensure they’re able to vote in November. The straightforward website guides voters through checking to see if they have an eligible ID, the steps to obtain a free photo voter ID, and verifying they know when and where to vote.
“Ensuring every eligible Virginia voter has the information and materials they need to cast a ballot is a top priority,” said ProgressVA Education Fund executive director Anna Scholl. “With today’s implementation of the new photo voter ID law, Virginia voters will have been subject to 3 different ID requirements over three years. These frequent changes reinforce how important it is to educate the public about the new law.”
“Unfortunately, the General Assembly only provided the State Board of Elections $200,000 to educate approximately 7 million Virginia voters about the new ID requirement,” Scholl continued. “That lack of resources makes it more important for community organizations to step up and help spread the word. According to the State Board of Elections’ own data, over 350,000 active Virginia voters don’t have a DMV-issued ID. We’re working to reach voters like these to ensure they have the materials they need to vote in November.”
Among the forms of acceptable ID under the new law are a Virginia drivers’ license, a US Passport, a photo ID issued by the US government, a student ID with a photo that was issued by any institution of higher education in Virginia, and an employee ID card with a photograph. Voters without one of these IDs can obtain a free voter photo ID at ANY local registrar’s office (a map of offices is available atbit.ly/VAregistrars). The process to obtain an ID is simple: complete the application at the registrar’s office, get your picture taken, and give the registrar your electronic signature. Voters will receive their ID through the mail in 7-10 days. Individuals can register to vote, update, or change their registration at the same time as applying for a free ID.
Complicating voter education efforts is a June 24th decision by the State Board of Elections to reexamine the final regulations regarding photo ID implementation. After bullying from conservative legislators like Senator Mark Obenshain, the Board voted 2-1 to solicit additional public comment on a provision allowing Virginia voters to use an expired drivers’ license or passport for the purposes of voting. The public comment period will run from July 14th to August 4th. The rules will likely be reconsidered at the Board’s August 27th meeting.
“Changing the rules governing what is a valid ID 8 weeks into the education period and close to 60 days before the November election is a recipe for voter confusion and disaster,” said Scholl. “Several forms of acceptable ID under the new law do not even contain an expiration date. Whether or not a voter is legally able to drive themselves to the polls should have no impact on whether they can vote. We hope the Board will retain the current regulations rather than creating an expensive administrative nightmare and changing the rules close to 60 days before an election.”