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Will voter ID law stop fraud – or keep some from polls?

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - If you're a voter in Virginia, sometime in the near future voting for your candidate might become easier, or tougher, depending on who you ask.

“What this is going to do is make voting more onerous on people” said State Senator Don McEachin (D. Henrico).

“It makes it easier for folks to vote,” said Tucker Martin, Communications Director for Governor Bob McDonnell.

Up until now, voters without identification at the polls had to sign an affidavit affirming their identity in order  to cast a ballot.

But Friday, Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill into law that will require Virginians to bring identification with them to the polls, or they will only be able to cast a provisional ballot that wouldn't be counted until they later bring proof of identification to their registrar.

But the governor also issued an executive order requiring new registration cards for 4.7 million voters in Virginia. Martin says it’s being mailed to Virginia voters right now.

“It's a simple step to make sure there won't be fraud in the elections, and frankly we've expanded the number of options to show your identity to make it easier for folks to vote,” Martin said.

But even without a voter I.D. card, the new law will allow you prove who you are by showing the following:  

  • Virginia voter registration card
  • Social Security card
  • Valid Virginia driver's license
  • Any other identification card issued by an agency of the Commonwealth, one of its political subdivisions, or the United States
  • Any valid student identification card issued by a Virginia institution of higher education
  • A valid identification card issued by an employer containing a photograph of the voter
  • A copy of a bank statement
  • A government check
  • A paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter
  • A copy of a current utility bill

“The problem is that people are not going to bring their power bills to the polls”, said McEachin.

McEachin says the new law will hurt voter turnout.

“I think this bill will weigh most heavily on the elderly, and those who live in the margins, the poor... Take, for instance, an elderly woman whose license has expired, who can`t find her card, and she`s been voting year in and year out for decades. How is she going to get this new [law] knowledge?"

“It’s very simple. It’s easy, and  makes it easier for folks to vote. This is common sense legislation,” said Martin.

Before it becomes law, it must be approved by the Department of Justice, and that could take 60 days.