The Justice Department approved a new Virginia voting law that makes it more difficult for people who show up to the polls without proper identification to get their ballot counted.

The law, passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly this year, requires voters who don't bring an ID to the polls to fill out a provisional ballot instead. The voter then must email, fax or bring in a copy of their ID election officials before their vote is counted.

The Justice Department approved the change late Monday.

Previously, voters could sign an affidavit swearing they are who they claim to be. Less than 1 percent of voters come to the polls without an ID, according to the State Board of Elections.

General Assembly Democrats charged during debate over the bill that the change would disproportionately affect students and older, minority voters who are less likely to have proper identification. Republicans insisted, however, that the legislation is needed to combat voter fraud.

"Protecting against voter fraud and making sure our elections are secure are critical for confidence in our democracy," Gov. Bob McDonnell said. "The legislation I signed into law is a practical and reasonable step to make our elections more secure while also ensuring access to the ballot box for all qualified voters."

Because of its history of discrimination at the polls, Virginia is among a handful of states that must have any changes to its voting laws cleared by the Justice Department.