Bill would require absentee voters to present photo ID even though voters themselves are never seen

Richmond, Va. – On a party-line vote of 20-17, the Senate today approved Del. Jeff Campbell’s (R - Marion) HB 1318, a bill requiring voters who apply for mail-in absentee ballots to submit copies of a photo ID. Obviously, election administrators never see these voters, meaning that they have no face to which they can usefully compare a photo ID.

Said Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D - Loudoun), “Registrars don’t know what absentee voters look like; forcing them to present a photo ID does nothing to protect the integrity of our elections. All this bill does is to raise a needless barrier that makes voting harder. Once again, we've moved to silence voices that deserve to be heard, and I am deeply disappointed.”

Said Sen. John Edwards (D - Roanoke), “This requirement on an absentee ballot to have a photo ID serves absolutely no useful function at all other than to burden people who want to get an absentee ballot. […] The individual is not showing up personally before the registrar, and so it does no useful function. So you’re getting a photograph, but you have nothing to compare it with — because the registrar doesn’t have photographs.”


Photo ID laws (of any kind) have the potential to disenfranchise thousands of Virginians. Last September, the State Board of Elections found that more than 198,000 active Virginia voters lack a DMV-issued photo ID; many others lack easy access to a photocopy machine — which, as Sen. Jill Vogel (R - Fauquier) admitted on the floor, this bill would effectively require.


The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus supports the legislative, political and electoral endeavors of Virginia Democratic senators. The caucus does everything it can to help senators carry out their mission to represent all Virginians and pass legislation that reflects Virginia’s mainstream values.
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