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House passes Cole bill to limit voter ID

The House of Delegates this morning passed a bill from Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, that removes some of the forms of voter identification allowed at the polls.

Cole’s bill reverses, in part, decisions made just last year when legislators passed a more stringent voter ID law. It removes utility bills, paychecks, bank statements and Social Security cards as acceptable forms of ID to vote.

“Those are very weak forms of ID and not generally accepted as ID in other transactions,” Cole said on Monday.

He said he filed the bill specifically after video surfaced of Rep. Jim Moran’s son discussing with a purported campaign worker ways in which that worker might encourage fraudulent voting using fake utility bills.

“So I thought it was appropriate to tighten up the list to more acceptable forms of ID,” Cole said.

Democrats said Cole’s bill only makes last year’s voter ID law — which they at the time likened to Jim Crow-era efforts to prevent people from voting — worse.

“There are people, mostly elderly, many of them but not all poor, who do not have any of these IDs that will be left, because they don’t drive anymore because they don’t have a valid driver’s license, they don’t have a concealed weapons permit,” said Del. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond. “All they have is the voter registration card sent by the state.”

McClellan said legislators are “putting laws in place that put barriers to people’s ability to vote when we haven’t had any evidence that there is a vast problem in Virginia” with voter fraud.

The bill passed the House on a 63-36 vote. It passed the Senate yesterday, although there, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling sided with Democrats in placing a delayed enactment on the bill, so it doesn’t take effect for another year.

“I think (the bill) is a reasonable effort to tighten voter identification requirements and assure greater integrity in the voting process,” Bolling said in a statement. “However, we just changed Virginia’s voter ID requirements in 2012, and we cannot change these requirements every year.  I am concerned that this would create unnecessary confusion among voters about what forms of ID are required at the polls.”

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