Say Cheese, Virginia Voters

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Get ready to say "cheese," Virginia.

If you plan to vote this November, you'll have to show up with a photo ID. Most government-issued identification will work, and if you don't have one, the state will get you a voter card free of charge.

The new rules go into effect July 1, but from creating new ID's to deciding which ones count as "valid," there are still some big questions about how the process will work.

"I'm just a little skeptical of how all of this could play out," said Waynesboro General Registrar Lisa Wooten.

Wooten is concerned about the manpower needed to help get new photo ID cards to those who qualify. She's the only full-time staff member in her office, and employs just two others part-time.

"We have no idea at this point, until we get into it, just how much we will be doing it," Wooten said.

There are also other concerns, namely, what types of identification can be accepted?

The law approved by Virginia lawmakers and signed by Governor Bob McDonnell last year requires voters to present a "valid" form of photo identification. It specifically lists Virginia driver's licenses, U.S. passports, employee ID cards, state university ID's, and any other government-issued identification.

What's still unclear is whether expired licenses or passports still qualify as "valid." Board of Elections Chair Charles Judd thinks they should.

"If you can look at that photo ID and determine that this is in fact that person presenting it, then mission accomplished," Judd said.

Some say that could make things easier for elderly voters, who might not have renewed their license or passport in many years. Plus, they say, the new state-issued voter ID's never expire.

"I think it's going to be common sense there," Wooten said. "If you can match up that ID with that person, I can see it being accepted."

The Board of Elections will train election officials across the state this month about how to process new ID cards. The board will then conduct beta testing during the month of June to ensure everything is working correctly, finalizing its regulations June 11.

Between equipment, printing, and outreach, the new ID requirement is expected to cost the state about $850,000 through 2019.

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