By Michael Sluss
The Virginia Senate has again passed legislation that would require voters to show identification at the polls, with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling casting the tie-breaking vote.
The Senate and House of Delegates will have to reconcile differences over the legislation before a bill can get to Gov. Bob McDonnell's desk.
Both versions strike a provision in state law that allows a voter without proper identification to cast a ballot after signing a sworn statement affirming his or her identity. Voters who do not have identification would cast provisional ballots that could be discarded.
The Senate on Monday passed the House-sponsored bill (HB9) after amending it to mirror legislation (SB1) the Senate passed earlier this month. The Senate's version allows voters more options for valid identification, including a driver's license, voter registration card, government-issued photo ID, social security card, bank statement or utility bill. The House bill does not allow forms such as bank statements and utility bills to be used. Under the Senate bill, voters who cast a provisional ballot must present the electoral board with a valid identification within a day or two to have the ballot counted. Under the House bill, the registrar has the authority to count the provisional ballot after comparing the signature on the ballot to the signature in the applicant's voter file.
All 20 Senate Democrats voted against the bill, which some blasted as a thinly veiled effort to suppress the votes of minorities and other groups.
"I will say to you that this is another day of shame for Virginia," Sen. Yvonne Miller, D-Norfolk, said.
"It delivers two messages and two messages only," Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, said. "One, bring an ID.... Two, don't commit fraud."