The Virginia House on Thursday gave final approval to a voter ID bill that Republicans said would bolster the integrity of elections but Democrats have compared to Jim Crow-era attempts to suppress the
The bill, which now heads to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, requires voters to show identification before their ballots will be counted. But it also greatly expands the types of ID accepted at the polls.
McDonnell has not taken a position on the measure, one of the most hotly contested of the General Assembly session.
“He will review the legislation when we receive the bill,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said.
The House voted 66-31 Thursday for Senate Bill 1, which had been proposed by Sen. Stephen H. Martin (R-Chesterfield). The House also approved House Bill 9, a similar measure that was amended to make it identical to the Senate version. That bill now goes to the Senate for approval.
For decades, Virginia has required voters to provide a voter registration card, Social Security card, driver’s license, government-issued identification or photo ID from a private workplace. But voters who showed up at the polls without identification were still allowed to cast ballots after signing a sworn statement that they were who they claimed to be.
The bills approved Thursday would allow voters to cast only provisional ballots after signing the statement. The provisional ballot would not be counted unless the voter provided identification — in person, by fax or via e-mail — before the results are certified six days after Election Day.
At the same time, the bills significantly expand the types of identification to include such things as college IDs, utility bills and government checks bearing the person’s name and address.
Republican lawmakers have contended that the measures are needed to combat voter fraud and ensure the integrity of the voting system. Democrats have said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud. They said the bills were part of a national GOP strategy to hold down the minority, youth and elderly voters critical to President Obama’s re-election strategy.