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Don’t forget to bring THIS to the polls on Tuesday

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RICHMOND, Va. – For the Congressional midterm elections on Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Elections is asking voters to bring valid photo identification to the polls. Under new legislation that became effective this year, all Virginia voters are required to show photo ID to have their ballots counted.

Edgardo Cortés, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, said that the law was passed to provide more security and integrity in the election process.

“Our job here at the Department of Elections is to implement that law and to make sure the law is implemented in a fair way, and that it’s implemented so it does not present any undue obstacles to eligible voters in participating and exercising their right to vote,” Cortés said.

If voters enter their assigned polling stations on Tuesday and don’t have a valid driver’s license available, they may provide a number of alternative forms of ID.

These include:

  • U.S. military ID
  • U.S. passport
  • employee ID card with a photograph and issued by the employer in the ordinary course of business
  • Virginia voter identification card
  • student ID with a photograph issued by any institution of higher learning in Virginia

Cortés said that if voters are without a valid photo ID, there is a process in place that allows participants to obtain a free ID card up until Election Day. And even then if a voter is without ID that day, they are still able to cast a conditional ballot.

“You can still vote a provisional ballot and you have until the Friday at noon after the election to go to the local registrars office to get an ID during that time period and it will still let you get your vote counted,’ said Cortés.

Use of stricter identification laws comes after changes were made to the Voting Rights Act. Cortés assures that the new ID law is not meant to cause any obstacles in the voting process. At the time of voting, voters will still have to state their name and provide general information, which insures the eligibility to vote.

For those who are still unsure of the voting process, the Virginia Department of Elections has links on their website for information on absentee voting, registration, and the constitutional right to vote.

“We hope that this new law does not dissuade anybody from voting. We have set up a process that is pretty easy,” said Cortés.

But there are also critics of the new law.

Deidra Condit, chair of the VCU Department of Political Science, thinks the voter ID laws will hurt voter turnout and that low voter turnout favors highly motivated party members.

“High voter turnout nationally favors Democratic candidates and that is certainly the case in Virginia as well as it teeters in its transition from a red state to a more blue state,” said Condit.

“I think that is intentional on the part of the Republican dominated legislature that wants to both redistrict to confine Democratic voters into small catch areas, thereby increasing Republican power in the House of Delegates and the Senate. And I think that the voter ID laws do that as well,” Condit added.

By Nicole Czaja, Brianna Graves, and John Hussar (Special to WTVR.com)

This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between WTVR.com and VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.

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