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VA Voter ID Law Gets Fed Approval: Groups Ready to Mobilize Voters

August 22, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - The U.S. Justice Department has approved Virginia's voter ID law, which means that when voters head to the polls in November, they will need specific forms of identification for their vote to be counted. Groups that opposed the legislation are now mobilizing to make sure voters are informed.

Ginger Thompson McDaniel, AARP Virginia associate director of communications, says her group believes the law makes the voting process difficult for some seniors, especially those without birth certificates.

"In Virginia, lots of times if you were born at home before about 1940, they didn't routinely issue birth certificates - and to get one, you had to go to your local courthouse. They shouldn't have to prove their identity to continue to vote when they've voted all their lives."

In a recent statement, Gov. Bob McDonnell said the new law will make elections more secure and protect against voter fraud. Debra Grant, a Virginia Organizing spokeswoman, says she's worked at poll sites for more than 25 years and personally has not seen any fraud. She worries about the confusion she has seen in her community.

"They're confusing people, because they're saying that, 'No, you don't need that; you need this, you need that.' It's all a part of trying to stop people from having that right to vote."

King Salim Khalfani, NAACP State Conference executive director, says his group opposed all the voter ID bills presented during the 2012 General Assembly. He sees the voter ID law as nothing but voter suppression.

"The legislators should have been finding the means and spending our meager resources to propose bills that would've enhanced and increased voter participation because, in spite of 2008, I still think that every citizen should be participating in the process."

AARP, Virginia Organizing and the NAACP say they'll be out in full force, making sure people are registered to vote, and that they know exactly what they must bring to the polls to make their vote count.

The State Board of Elections says acceptable forms of ID for voting include a valid Virginia driver's license, a military ID or concealed handgun permit. Those who don't have a proper ID will be offered a provisional ballot. All registered voters will be mailed a voter card, which will also be a valid ID at the polls.

For more information, contact the Virginia State Board of Elections at 1-800-552-9745.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA