WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday cleared the way for Virginia's new voter ID law to be used in the fall elections.
The Washington Post reports (http://bit.ly/Qk80n1 ) that federal officials found the law did not violate the Voting Rights Act. The state law closes a loophole that allowed Virginians without identification to vote while it also expands the type of accepted ID to include a valid student ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter.
The Justice Department said in a letter that it does not "interpose any objection to the specified changes," but added that any further changes affecting voting would be subject to review under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Virginia must get federal preclearance for voting law changes because of a past history of discrimination.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement he was pleased with the department's decision to sign off on what he called "commonsense legislation."
McDonnell's office said in a news release that the law changes the procedure when someone votes without presenting ID to require them to vote provisionally and later present an approved voter ID to their local registrar through email, fax, mail or in person.
McDonnell noted that he issued an executive order directing the State Board of Elections to send a voter card to every Virginia voter before Election Day.
"Protecting against voter fraud and making sure our elections are secure are critical for confidence in our democracy," McDonnell said in a statement.