Now the WashPost Tells Us: Virginia Voter ID Law 'Not As Severe' As South Carolina, Texas

March 16th, 2012 12:48 PM

When the Virginia General Assembly was debating a new voter ID law, the Washington Post did its level best to paint the measure as a vote suppressing measure that was akin to "Jim Crow" laws. The Post's editorial board also weighed in by charging that making the voter ID laws stricter was evidence of "institutional racism" in state government.

But now that the debate is over and the bill is likely to be signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), the Post's Richmond correspondents Laura Vozzella and Anita Kumar today admitted that, well, the legislation is fairly lax compared with stricter legislation that absolutely requires photo IDs in other states:

[S]ome observers say Virginia’s legislation is less likely to draw Justice objections than the Texas and South Carolina legislation, which required voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls.

Although Virginia’s measure requires some form of ID, it would expand the types of acceptable voter identification to include such things as utility bills and bank statements.

“I do believe the Virginia law is much more narrowly tailored,” said state Sen. Tom Garrett (R), a Louisa County prosecutor who successfully tried two people for voter fraud in 2009. “You won’t find the words ‘photo ID’ in our law.”

State Sen. Stephen H. Martin (R-Chesterfield), who sponsored the voter ID bill, said the Justice Department actions are unlikely to come Virginia’s way.

“There’s a huge difference . . . because we do not require a photo ID,” he said.

Even some critics of Virginia’s legislation — which is among the most hotly contested of this year’s session — aren’t counting on the Justice Department to stop it.

“It’s not as severe as the other two laws, in South Carolina and Texas,” said state Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who nonetheless thinks the Virginia measure is intended to “hold down minority votes.”

Of course, as my colleague Jeffrey Meyer noted last week, even staunch photo ID opponents on the Left have to concede that requiring a photo ID to prove your identity at the polling place makes sense to most people. Indeed, public opinion polls bear that out, with a 2011