Va. bill would chage voter ID requirements

Big changes could soon be in store at the voting booth if you live in Virginia.

Lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly are behind a bill to limit the forms of acceptable identification when you vote. The proposal, which passed in both the Senate and the House along partisan lines, forces voters to present more sophisticated forms of identification.

Supporters say the legislation allows for greater integrity within the electorate while cracking down on voter fraud.

Murtaza Akhari, a Virginia voter, said, "It's actually good overall. It's a better system. It's going to do more, get people involved."

Under Senate Bill 719, unacceptable forms of identification - that are presently legal - include a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck with a name and address and a social security card. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver's license, U.S. passport, student or work photo ID, voter registration card or a concealed handgun permit.

Zac Childs of Virginia said the legislation sounds a lot like the old Jim Crow laws that suppressed the vote of African Americans.

"I just feel it's unjust," he added.

Supporters stress that it's not hard in the Commonwealth to get a new voter registration card. But critics insists that traditional, democratic constituencies, like the elderly, the poor and minorities, are less likely to carry photo IDs.

Virginia resident Mary Bothwell said, "I think there is some cause for some concern, but I don't the solution to that is some draconian measure that essentially disenfranchises people."

If differences between the Senate and House bills are worked out and the bill is signed into law, it wouldn't go into effect until mid-2014, giving voters time to adjust to the legislation.