Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Friday issued an executive order requiring the State Board of Elections to issue voter cards to every eligible Virginian voter.
Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have all passed laws requiring voters to present a government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot. The voter ID laws have recently come under fire from civil rights groups and Democrats, who claim the laws make it harder for poor and minority voters to cast a ballot.
McDonnell said the executive order would “ensure that no voter is overly burdened” by Virginia’s voter ID law.
“Open and secure elections are the cornerstone of a free democracy and are essential for citizens to have faith in their government,” McDonnell said.
“Every qualified citizen has the right to cast one vote. Not two votes; not zero votes. It is our duty as a democracy to ensure that is always the case. For a dozen years, Virginia has already required voters to bring identification to the polls. This legislation does two things. It increases the forms of identification that can be used for purpose of voting, while helping to further prevent voter fraud and ensuring Virginians that they can have faith that votes have not been fraudulently cast.”
The executive order also requires the State Board of Elections to conduct a public education campaign about the need to bring an approved ID to vote and how to obtain a free voter card.
McDonnell issued the order after signing legislation that allowed voters without an approved ID to vote provisionally and later present an approved ID to their local registrar through email, fax, or mail.
Virginia was the first state to implement a voter ID law. Unlike other states, Virginia’s law does not require a photo identification — it accepts a variety of documents such as Social Security cards or a copy of a current utility bill.
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