Virginia Voter ID Law Upheld

A federal appeals court today upheld a Virginia law requiring voters to show photo identity cards at the polls, despite objections from minorities, young voters and Democrats.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial judge’s decision that the Democrats and minorities failed to present “sufficient evidence to support their claims.

Virginia originally permitted voters without identification to vote by signing an affirmation of their identity at the polls. But since 1996, Virginia has required voters to present ID.

In 2012, the state assembly enacted a law to bar self-affirmation and broadened the acceptable forms of identification, including some that were non-photographic. This was changed in 2013 to require photo identification by all voters in all elections.

For those without photo ID or voting the first time, the law allowed the Board of Elections to provide voters with free photo ID without requiring documentation, by providing name, address, birthdate and four digits of the voter’s social security number.

In 2015, Barbara Lee, a black voter in Virginia and Gonzalo Aida Brescia, a Latino and the Democatic Party of Virginia filed suit against the law alleging violation of the Voting Rights Act, constitutional free speech and equal protection violations.

Following a seven-day non-jury trial, the judge upheld the Voter ID law and dismissed all the plaintiff’ claims.

Although the judge said the voter witnesses showed the process was “a bit cumbersome” none were denied his or her right to vote.

The 4th Circuit panel upheld the ruling. “Not only does the substance of SB1256 [the voter ID law] not impose an undue burden on minority voting, there was no evidence to suggest racially discriminatory intent in the law’s enactment.”

Case:   Lee v. Virginia Board of Elections, No. 16-1605


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