Voter identification requirements could soon be tightened in Virginia, after Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) cast consecutive tie-breaking votes in the State Senate yesterday, ensuring passage of Republican bills dealing with voter IDs and ballot counting procedures, according to Associated Press.
The most controversial bill that passed is a voter identification measure that generated bitter oppositions from Democrats, particularly African-American senators who say it is akin to Jim Crow-era efforts to suppress black votes.
Sen. Henry Marsh says he once had to pay a $5 poll tax, and that this bill would similarly put obstacles before the poor, elderly, disabled, and others, according to AP. Marsh is a lawyer who was involved in the legal battle to desegregate public schools 50 years ago.
The Senate version passed Monday was one of two voter ID bills working their way through the General Assembly this week. The House version also required identification to vote, but allowed poll workers to verify a voter's signature if he or she came to the polling place without ID, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Lt. Gov. Bolling broke a 20-20 party-line stalemate on the voter ID bill, as well as another that would exclude news outlets and the public from observing the counting of provisional ballots.
The Virginia House is expected to take up the Senate version of the bill this week. If it passes, it would go to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell for ratification.