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Cole bills on voter ID, presidential primaries advance

Del. Mark Cole’s bill to limit the kinds of identification used to vote was passed this morning by a House committee, and will go to the full House next week.

Cole’s bill removes utility bills, bank statements and paychecks from the list of documents voters can show at the polls to prove their identity.

Those items and others were added just last year when the General Assembly approved legislation meant to tighten the voter ID requirements.

Cole, however, said he thought there were too many documents allowed to be used as ID.

His bill does not require a photo ID. It does, however, apply to all local, state and federal elections; originally it exempted some new voters in federal elections.

The House Privileges and Elections committee easily passed the bill Friday morning, with little debate.

The committee also approved a bill from Cole that would lower the threshold for presidential candidates trying to get on Virginia’s presidential primary ballot.

Currently presidential candidates have to get 10,000 voters statewide to sign petitions, 400 from each congressional district.

But last year only two of the seven Republican presidential candidates managed to get enough valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. Several others sued to challenge Virginia’s requirements, saying the petition rules were a severe burden.

That lawsuit was rejected, with the judge essentially saying the candidates knew the rules and simply failed to follow them properly.

Nevertheless there have been several bills, including Cole’s, filed to lower the requirements.

Cole’s reduces the total number of signatures required to 5,000, 200 from each congressional district.

The full House will vote on both bills next week.

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