While other states like Wisconsin have lost battles with the courts over voter ID laws, Virginia and Texas have been successful in requiring ID at the polls, and for both states, this is the first federal election requiring ID, WHSV-3 reports.
Owing to concerns about voter disenfranchisement, Virginia’s voter ID law, which came into effect on July 1, has several options to accommodate those without ID. First, the local registrar’s office is open for voters to apply for a free voter photo ID card if they don’t already have an ID. Ten different types of ID have been listed as acceptable to vote, such as a passport, military or college ID, driver’s license, or any other form of federal, state, or local photo identification. Second, voters can still cast preliminary ballots without ID, so long as by Friday at noon they return with identification to verify their ballot. If identification is not presented by the voter by then, the ballot will be tossed out.
Some Virginia voters didn’t feel that the requirement would impose much of a burden or constitute a substantial change from previous years. “Every time I’ve gone to the poll for the last several years I’ve been asked for ID even before they passed the law. So, it seems like it was already kind of being done just to make sure that you were who you said you were,” Jakob Helmboldt said. According to Rose Mansfield, executive assistant to the commissioner and state board of elections, since Monday, Virginia has issued 2,436 voter IDs.
But regardless of stringent opposition from the federal government, polls show that Texans support voter ID. A University of Texas/Texas Tribute poll in October found that 67 percent of registered Texas voters had a favorable view of voter ID law, with only 22 percent having an unfavorable view. An additional 43 percent of voters do not believe that voter ID will change voter turnout, whatsoever.
Turnout for midterm elections is almost always lower than for presidential elections, but voter groups are still clamoring around the polls to see the effects of voter ID on voters. One group, the Virginia New Majority, will monitor 80 different polling locations.
“When we adopted this, we looked at other states,” said Virginia state Sen. Mark Obenshain, who argued that voter ID laws benefit both blue and red states and help reduce fraud. For Sen. Obenshain, Virginia’s voter ID law will “eliminate as many barriers as possible to voters.”
On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would be deploying to 28 counties across the U.S. to ensure that voters are rampantly discriminated against and disenfranchised. Two of those counties are in Texas, Houston and Waller County, in a state which experienced heated legal battles all the way up to October 18, where the Supreme Court finally allowed voter ID for the general election, just 48 hours before early voting was set to occur. Throughout the case, the DOJ attempted to push back and overturn voter ID in Texas, and across other states in the union.
“Making it more difficult to vote with restrictive measures like burdensome voter ID laws is out of step with our history,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement on Monday.
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