There was a bit of excitement in Richmond Monday when Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling cast the tie-breaking vote on an amendment to SB719, one of the Voter ID bills in the Virginia Senate, agreeing with Democratic Senator Donald McEachin of Henrico County. Later in the day, the Lieutenant Governor’s office sent out an explanation of his vote:
“Earlier today, I cast the tie-breaking vote in support of a floor amendment to SB719. The purpose of SB719 is to tighten voter ID requirements by removing utility bills, bank statements, government checks, paychecks, etc from the list of acceptable forms of ID that can be provided at the polls. The floor amendment offered by Senator Donald McEachin of Henrico County had two purposes. First, it delayed the effective date of these proposed changes to 2014, and second, it conditioned the implementation of the changes on the appropriation of funds to make voters aware of the changes.
“Let me be clear, I support the purpose of SB719. I think it is a reasonable effort to tighten voter identification requirements and assure greater integrity in the voting process. 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. As such, I have been clear throughout this year’s legislative session that I do not believe that any additional changes to our voter ID requirements should be made this year. I felt that the floor amendment had the practical effect of accomplishing this goal. I will support final passage of SB719 with the amendment in place.
“I would note that an additional bill, SB1256, will be considered by the Senate tomorrow. SB1256 goes a step farther than SB719 and would require photo ID at the polls. Interestingly, SB1256 already includes a delayed effective date until July 1, 2014. I will support passage of SB1256 if it comes before the Senate and results in a tie vote. I have always supported photo ID because I believe it will help improve integrity in the elections process. However, it would make no sense to have passed comprehensive changes to our voter ID laws in 2012, to pass the additional changes set forth in SB719 in 2013, and then attempt to implement a pure photo ID requirement in 2014. It is this type of constant change in our voter ID requirements that I fear could create unnecessary confusion in the minds of voters.
“Ultimately, I hope we will take time during this year’s legislative session to carefully decide what we want our voter ID requirements to be. I support a pure photo ID requirement. However, we should delay implementation of these changes until 2014, which should give us sufficient time to obtain approval of the changes from the U.S. Department of Justice as required by the Voting Rights Act and properly educate the public on what our new voter ID requirements will be.”
In a nut shell, the Lieutenant Governor supports tightening Virginia’s voter ID requirements, including the implementation of a photo ID requirement, but does not support implementing those changes until 2014.