Bolling helps Va. Senate pass voter and photo ID bills
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling delighted Democrats and flummoxed Republicans Monday when he cast a tie-breaking vote to delay until July 2014 the effective date of a bill to scale back which forms of voter identification are accepted at the polls.
Bolling turned the tables Tuesday when he cast the decisive vote to pass the bill out of the Senate after the chamber deadlocked 20-20 on SB 719.
Then during afternoon floor action, Bolling cast another tie-breaking vote to approve Sen. Mark Obenshain's SB 1256 that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls to vote.
The voter ID measure from Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun County, strikes from the list of acceptable IDs social security cards, utility bills, pay stubs and bank statements bearing a voter's name and address.
Black's bill was amended Monday by Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico County, to specify that it wouldn't take effect until next July, and only if the state budgets money to fund a voter outreach and education effort about the changes.
McEachin proposed similar a amendment for Obenshain's bill, but it was rejected.
Obenshain said his bill would provide a mechanism for those without photo ID to obtain one free of charge.
And he vaguely referenced to a video secretly-recorded last fall showing the son of Northern Virginia U.S. Rep. Jim Moran discussing fraudulently voting with phony utility bills.
That episode "raised serious questions about the adequacy of some of the forms of identification," Obenshain said.
Challenging the bill, McEachin argued there's been no documented evidence of actual voting fraud, saying the legislation is a GOP response to dissatisfaction with recent presidential election results.
Bolling said Monday he considers Black's bill "a reasonable effort to tighten voter identification requirements and assure greater integrity in the voting process," but thinks this year is too soon to again alter Virginia's voter ID statute.
Last year, Virginia law was changed so voters are required to show ID at the polls to vote by regular ballot.
Those without ID are given a provisional ballot that's only counted if the voter subsequently verifies their identity to election officials.
Virginia spent roughly $2 million ahead of last November's election to educate the public about the new law and send voter registration cards to citizens.
"We cannot change these requirements every year," Bolling said Monday. "I am concerned that this would create unnecessary confusion among voters about what forms of ID are required at the polls."
Similar voter ID legislation, HB 1337, without a delayed enactment clause has already passed the House of Delegates, which has rejected photo ID legislation this year.
Photo ID legislation has already failed in the House of Delegates.
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