The U.S. Justice Department has approved Virginia’s new voter- identification law, GOP Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced Monday night.
The law ends the policy of allowing Virginians to vote without an ID, but also broadens the acceptable forms of identification for voting.
McDowell called the legislation "a practical and reasonable step to make our elections more secure while also ensuring access to the ballot box for all qualified voters,” according to The Washington Post
The law needed Justice Department approval under the federal Voting Rights Act because Virginia has a history of voter discrimination. The decision allows the law to be implemented before Election Day.
Voter ID laws around the country are controversial. Republicans have passed the new rules to prevent voter fraud, but Democrats claim the laws seek to deny voting rights to minorities and other groups who traditionally favor Democrats.
A Pennsylvania judge last week upheld that state’s voter-ID law, which is stricter than Virginia’s.
Virginia’s law is more lenient than those in other states because it expands the acceptable forms of identification for voting. In the past, voters needed either a voter registration card, Social Security card, driver’s license, government-issued identification, or photo ID from a private workplace. Under the new law, they also can use utility bills, paychecks, bank statements, government checks, or a current Virginia college ID.
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