92-year-old former poll worker loses Virginia voting rights after she stops driving
A 92-year-old woman who has voted for 72 years in Virginia said that she was unable to cast a ballot on Election Eay because of the state’s photo identification requirements.
The Roanoke Times this week profiled Virginia Whittaker, who had been a volunteer poll worker for years after she retired, but she was turned away when she tried to cast a ballot earlier this month.
Whittaker told the Times that she had been fighting melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. And on Election Day, she went straight from a pre-operation consultation to the polling place.
Poll workers who came outside to assist Whittaker with voting in her car explained that a Voter Registration Card that she was mailed in 2012 was no longer valid because the legislature changed the law in 2013 to require a photo ID. That law went into effect earlier this year.
Whittaker had to stop driving several years ago, so she has never renewed her license. She gave poll workers her expired license, but they refused to take it.
“I just didn’t know you had to have that card,” Whittaker explained. “You know, they mail everything to you. I had this other little card they mailed to me” in 2012.
The Roanoke Times pointed out that even though Whittaker had basically produced two forms of identification at the polling place, she could have gotten an acceptable photo ID without any proof of her identity. She only needed to fill out a form with her name, birth date and Social Security number.
Election workers noted that Whittaker could have cast a provisional ballot. But that would have required her to prove her identity by the Friday after the election. And she did not have access to email or a fax machine, which was necessary to submit the ID. She could have also presented it in person, but Whittaker was scheduled to have additional cancer treatments throughout the week.
But since her ID had already been ruled invalid, Whittaker decided that there was no point in casting a provisional ballot.
“She was upset,” Whittaker’s longtime friend Diane Weiss recalled. “I was probably even more upset. I was downright angry.”
Weiss added that she had discovered “voter fraud at its worst”: the photo ID law itself.