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Concern Over New Voter I.D. Law Clouds Upcoming Election

GRAPHIC: A local election on the 19th will be the first time a photo I.D. will be required to cast a ballot, as required by the commonwealth's new voter I.D. law. The League of Women Voters is concerned many Virginians are not aware of the new rules. Photo credit: League of Women Voters of Virginia.
GRAPHIC: A local election on the 19th will be the first time a photo I.D. will be required to cast a ballot, as required by the commonwealth's new voter I.D. law. The League of Women Voters is concerned many Virginians are not aware of the new rules. Photo credit: League of Women Voters of Virginia.
August 18, 2014

FARMVILLE, Va. - A small, local election on Tuesday is the first time Virginia voters will have to show a photo I.D. as required by a new law.

The Farmville town council election in Prince Edward and Cumberland counties represents the first time any of the commonwealth's voters will have to present a photo I.D. to cast a ballot.

Anne Sterling, president of the the League of Women Voters of Virginia, says her organization is concerned many Virginians haven't considered what they'll need to prove their identity at the polls. She says they're especially worried about the oldest and youngest voters.

"Elderly people often let their driver's licenses expire or their passports expire," says Sterling. "And plenty of people 18 and older don't get a driver's license."

Sterling stresses anyone who has questions about Tuesday's election should contact their voter registration office, or go to Board of Elections website at sbe.Virginia.gov.

Virginia's new voter I.D. law requires voters to present a driver's license or passport, a veteran, work or college I.D., or similar government identification. Sterling stresses the I.D. has to have a photo, and can't be more than a year out of date. She says if a voter's I.D. has expired, the voter can get one from the voter registrar during office hours - but Sterling urges people not wait to deal with the issue.

"If it became expired longer ago than twelve months, it will not be accepted," she says. "Those voters will want to act now, while they still have time."

One estimate puts the number of Virginia voters without a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued I.D. at 300,000. While the law's supporters say it will stop people from voting under someone else's name, critics of the law charge that kind of voter fraud is exceptionally rare.

According to Sterling, the issue is still in flux - some rules have just been set and the law itself may be subject to court challenges. She says it's a confusing situation, made more confusing since the Farmville election is the only one of four upcoming elections in the commonwealth where the new law will apply.

"The new law will not apply in the other three elections. I believe those are for the House of Delegates," she says.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA