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Voter laws shouldn't restrict Virginia voters

Date published: 10/1/2012

GOV. BOB MCDONNELL has ordered local registrars to mail a new voter ID card to every registered voter in the state by Oct. 1--that's today. Look for it, stick it in your wallet, and present it at the polls. That's all you'll need to do to vote on Nov. 6.

In yet another of what seems like an endless parade of partisan controversies, new voter ID laws across the country are stirring up a storm of confusion right here in the Old Dominion. Across the nation, Republicans want to tighten the rules and make sure everyone who votes is eligible to do so. Democrats say the GOP is trying to keep certain groups from the polls. Whichever "truth" you believe about the existence of either voter fraud or vote suppression apparently hinges on your partisan orientation. Everything these days seems to, right down to your preferred brand of peanut butter.

Here in Virginia, however, it shouldn't matter. The legislation passed this year does not require a photo ID at the polls. It does, however, change the rules. In years past, if voters showed up without identification, they could sign an affidavit testifying to their identity. This year, that affidavit will allow voters to cast a "provisional" vote only.

However, the forms of identification voters can present have been expanded: They now include almost any government-issued identification card, utility bills, paycheck stubs, and, of course, the voter ID card sent by the registrar. The important point, once more: No photo ID is required.

The new rules should not keep any valid voter from the polls. In fact, Eric Holder's Department of Justice says they fully comply with the Voting Rights Act.

So ignore the whirlwind of controversy swirling on the national scene. Look for your new voter ID card in the mail. And turn out on Nov. 6 to cast your ballot.

POSTSCRIPT

A February study of voter registrations by the Pew Trust, an honest broker, found that more than 1.8 million dead people remain listed as active voters and that about 2.5 million Americans are registered in two places and nearly 70,000 in three places.

These irregularities arguably present opportunities for significant electoral fraud. They certainly suggest that technocrats should roll up their sleeves and make voter rolls more accurate. Has the Republic descended so far that a bipartisan effort can't be launched to muck this stable?