CORRECTED: 4th Circuit Unanimously Rejects Challenge to VA Voter ID Law

You can find the 37-page opinion at this link. It concludes:

At bottom, just as Congress in HAVA found it beneficial to the voting process and the public perception of the voting process to require photo IDs, and just as the Carter-Baker Commission found similarly, Virginia found it beneficial to require photo identification in all elections. Moreover, Virginia took numerous steps to mitigate any burdens that this requirement might impose on voters, suggesting that a benign purpose underlay SB 1256’s enactment. It allowed a broad scope of acceptable forms of identification, which included most IDs that citizens have and that are reasonably reliable; it allowed citizens attempting to vote without identification to cast provisional ballots and then cure their identification deficiency within three days; it provided those citizens who lacked photo identification a free photo ID without the need to present any documentation; and it provided assistance to citizens expressing difficulty in obtaining free IDs. In sum, not only does the substance of SB 1256 not impose an undue burden on minority voting, there was no evidence to suggest racially discriminatory intent in the law’s enactment. The judgment of the district court is accordingly AFFIRMED.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the Obama administration had precleared this law. In fact, it had precleared an earlier, less strict version of this law.  From the Washington Post report on the ruling:

In 2012, Virginia lawmakers passed election rules that required voters to present identification — with or without a photo. The state mailed voter-registration cards, which could be used to cast ballots, to all registered voters.

Ten months later, the Republican-controlled legislature approved a more restrictive measure requiring photo identification for in-person voting. Voters could obtain free photo IDs from the Board of Elections and use a photo ID that had expired within the past year. A person without the required identification can cast a provisional ballot and later present a photo ID.

Both bills were signed into law by McAuliffe’s Republican predecessor, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell.

I apologize for my confusion.

For a piece that focuses on Virginia’s photo ID law, see Hank Chambers, State and Local Officials and Voter ID, 15 Election L.J. 234 (2016).


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