To the Editor:
The voters of Virginia won a great victory when Governor McDonnell signed SB 1256, which changes Virginia’s law to require a recent photo ID as the only acceptable identification for voting. Thus, a positive identification can now be made with a visual check to verify that the person coming to vote is actually who he claims to be. The existing law allows a number of passive identifiers such as a voter registration card or even a utility bill which proves nothing other than that the person has in his possession a piece of paper with a name and address on it. The person’s identity is not verified.
Voters across the commonwealth now can be assured that their individual vote will not be nullified by a fraudulent vote. Opponents of this bill will argue that there is no evidence of fraudulent voting and thus SB 1256 attempts to solve a problem that does not exist. However, when non-verifiable identification is allowed, it is virtually impossible to identify and convict fraudulent voters except in the most flagrant of cases where multiple votes are proven to be cast by a single voter or where the person attempting to vote is clearly known not to be the voter listed in the registration book.
Photo identification has become a necessary requirement for many of our routine daily activities. Yet, somehow opponents of this bill believe that proving our identity to exercise our constitutional right to vote is less important than proving our identity before boarding an airplane or cashing a check at a bank or donating blood. Since the new law provides for free photo IDs to be issued to those few without one, it is meaningless to claim that requiring a photo ID for voting will disenfranchise various groups such as the poor, the elderly and minority groups. In fact, studies from other states have shown just the opposite result. Voter registration and turnout have actually increased within these groups after enactment of a photo ID law.