02/05/2013 06:45 pm ET Updated Feb 06, 2013

Virginia Voter ID Bills Would Tighten Strict Voting Laws

Virginia Republicans passed two voter-identification bills on Tuesday that would further tighten the state's already strict voting laws, MSNBC reports.

The legislation -- Senate Bill 719 and House Bill 1337 -- restricts the list of acceptable identification documents voters can bring to the polls on Election Day. Not set to take effect until 2014, the bills would make it harder for those without a driver's license, student ID or concealed handgun permit to vote. The House bill eliminates "a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter and a voter's social security card" as acceptable forms of identification.

Republican Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling, who cast the tie-breaking vote on Monday in favor of an earlier version of the Senate bill, said the legislation will ensure voter integrity, but expressed concern over the frequency of the new laws.

“I think [the bill] is a reasonable effort to tighten voter identification requirements and assure greater integrity in the voting process,” Bolling said in a statement about the earlier Senate bill, according to MSNBC. “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.”

This is the second time Virginia lawmakers have passed legislation concerning voter identification, according to MSNBC. In 2012, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) signed a law closing a provision allowing Virginia voters to vote without ID while expanding the types of identification allowed.

In January, Virginia became the first state to advance legislation that would award electoral votes according to individual congressional districts as opposed to the current winner-take-all system. Democratic state legislators, however, opposed the legislation, which they said would favor Republican candidates, and the bill was killed, according to ProgressVa.



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