Voter ID Debate: Validity Extended to One Year After Expiring

Aug 7, 2014

Virginia's ever-changing voter photo-ID law is changing once again—as the State Board of Elections finalizes its related regulations. Since a controversy over the law has pitted former rivals against one another, it's likely to be a galvanizing issue once the General Assembly reconvenes next year.

Herring and Obenshain

State law now requires a photo ID to vote and lists which documents are "valid." But the Board wondered whether a driver's license is still valid if it’s expired. It initially decided in June to allow acceptance of licenses that had expired within 30-days.  But some groups say that's unreasonable, and Attorney General Mark Herring questioned its constitutionality.  Delegate Vivian Watts says "valid" has nothing to do with expiration.

“It was validly issued by somebody – by an agency who took that picture and matched it up with that name, and the person before you is the person of that name. If we had chosen to use the word ‘current,’ current would have been there.”

But the law’s sponsor, Senator Mark Obenshain, who once ran against Herring, says the attorney general is once again reinterpreting law that should be left for lawmakers—and that "expired" does mean "INVALID.” But the Board decided in the opposite direction of Obenshain’s argument. The members voted to extend the expiration period to ONE YEAR and let the General Assembly hash out the language. 

WDBJ7 reports that so far, the City of Roanoke is leading the commonwealth in voter ID applications, followed by Richmond and Washington County.