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Voters now required to show photo ID
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Martinsville Registrar Cindy Barbour prepares to take a photograph for a voter ID card at her office. Anyone who does not have an acceptable photo ID can obtain one through the registrar’s office. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Monday, July 28, 2014

By AMANDA ALDERMAN - Staff Writer

A new voter identification law that took effect July 1 means now is the time for any Virginia voter who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID to get one — and local registrars can help.

The new state law requires all voters who cast ballots in person at the polls to show an acceptable form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license, passport or other government-issued photo ID. Documents that do not show a photo of the voter will no longer be acceptable identification at the polls.

Martinsville Registrar Cindy Barbour does not believe many local voters will be affected by the requirement because most people already have some sort of photo identification.

“It might be a few, that 1 percent, maybe, that does not have a photo ID,” she said, offering a guess at how many city voters do not have photo identification. “(But) if they needed a photo ID, and if they did not have some type of already-issued ID, they can always come to the voter registration office and we can make a photo.”

Registered voters who do not have an acceptable form of photo ID (see list at the end of this story) may get a free voter photo ID card through any local voter registrar’s office, Barbour said. They will have to fill out an application, sign an affidavit saying they do not have any other acceptable form of photo ID, and have a picture taken.

Those who are not registered to vote may do so at the same time, she added.

The information will be submitted to the state Department of Elections, and a voter photo ID will be mailed to the applicant. The process is expected to take seven to 10 days, Barbour said.

Neither she nor Henry County Registrar Elizabeth Stone had seen anyone come into her office to get a photo ID as of last week, but both said they had received a few public inquiries about the law change. Patrick County Registrar Susan Taylor said she had helped three people apply for a voter photo ID as of Friday.

Taylor said the application process takes no more than half an hour — probably less.

“It’s a short process,” she said. “They fill out a short form and then we take their picture and then they sign, and that’s it.”

Stone cautioned that if large groups of people arrived at the same time to apply for IDs, the process could become time consuming.

All three registrars encouraged people not to wait until the last minute if they want to vote in the Nov. 4 election and need identification. Although there is no deadline to apply for a voter photo ID, Barbour advised applying at least two weeks before the election to allow plenty of time for processing and delivery.

That would coincide with the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 contest, which is 5 p.m. Oct. 14.

But there is no reason to wait until the fall, Barbour and Stone advised.

“The sooner, the better,” Barbour said. “If they’ll notify the office and plan to come by, we’ll be happy to make them a photo ID, and they’ll get it in plenty of time.”

The voter photo ID cards are different than voter registration cards, which are issued to each person who registers to vote. Those cards show a person’s address and identify his or her polling place.

In the past, voter registration cards were among several documents that could be used as ID at the polls. However, that is no longer the case.

“Now, you will have to have a photo ID,” Barbour emphasized.

According to the Department of Elections website, anyone who shows up to vote on Nov. 4 without an acceptable form of photo identification will have to vote with a provisional ballot. Those voters will have until noon on the Friday after the election to present identification to the local electoral board, the website says.

The change will affect some absentee voters as well, Barbour and Stone said. For example, anyone who votes absentee in person will have to show a photo ID.

Those who vote absentee by mail might qualify for an exemption from the law, Barbour said. They will be notified as to whether they need to provide a copy of a photo ID after they have applied for an absentee ballot, she added.

Barbour encouraged any city voters who vote absentee by mail and have questions about the identification requirements to call her office at 403-5122. Some disabled and homebound voters regularly vote absentee by mail, she noted.

Henry County voters with questions may call Stone’s office at 638-5108. The number for the Patrick County office is 694-7206.

Registrars will be able to issue temporary voter photo ID cards close to Election Day if necessary, but it is best to apply in advance and receive a card through the mail, the registrars said.

Stone urged voters not to wait to take care of the new requirement.

“I don’t want to deny anyone the right to vote just because they don’t have an ID,” she said.

For more information, Barbour suggested the following websites:

• For information on the voter ID law: sbe.virginia.gov

• To check whether your voter registration is up to date: www.vote.virginia.gov

• To watch a video about the new law and for city voter information: www.martinsville-va.gov/registrar

According to information on the Department of Elections website, the following forms of photo identification are acceptable at the polls:

• valid Virginia driver’s license or identification card

• valid Virginia DMV-issued veteran’s ID card

• valid U.S. passport

• other government-issued photo identification card

• valid college or university student photo ID card from a college or university in Virginia

• employee photo identification card issued by the voter’s employer

• Virginia voter photo ID card.

 

 
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