Mixed Feelings Circulate Around New Voter ID Bill - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Mixed Feelings Circulate Around New Voter ID Bill

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If you want to vote in the 2014 mid-term elections, you'll have to bring a form of photo identification along with you.  Governor Bob McDonnell officially signed a measure into law this week requiring photo identification to vote - and local registrars have mixed feelings.  

The state started requiring some form of identification during the 2012 elections, like a bank statement or pay stub - but now, the rules are changing again.

Starting in July 2014, all voters will be required to present a valid photo ID to cast a ballot in Virginia. That includes driver's licenses, passports or any state-issued photo ID. Voter registrars in Virginia will provide a free ID to anyone who lacks a valid photo ID.

"It's a way to get a free ID, I mean that's basically what it is," said Sheri Iachetta, Charlottesville general registrar.

The law still faces review from the U.S. Department of Justice. If approved, the state board of elections would roll out photo equipment to all voter registrars in the state.  

Albemarle County Registrar Jake Washburne says the new rule will likely mean more work for his office, and less space to do it in.

"We'll just have to see, it's sort of new ground," said Washburne. "It'll make it a little more cumbersome because before this we weren't required to photograph voters and take their signatures and transfer it to a card." 

The state will also undertake an outreach effort to educate voters on the new changes. Before the first ID laws took effect in 2012, election officials say outreach efforts were very successful, resulting in only a handful of provisional ballots.

"I hope the same thing will happen with this, you know, that there won't be that many people who have to vote provisional," said Washburne.

Many groups, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Progress Virginia, oppose the change. But registrars say it's time to look ahead.

"It passed, the governor signed it, and we've got to implement it whether we like it or not. And we're going to make the best of it and we're going to make it work," said Iachetta.

Supporters say the law will help cut down on impersonation fraud at the polls. Registrars in the city and county say there are no noted issues of that type of fraud, but say this would be an additional safeguard.

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