Virginia Voter ID bill awaits Governor while Texas version gets court challenge   

Posted at 10:55 PM, Mar 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-12 23:27:23-04

(WTVR)--For weeks it was the center of contentious dispute at the Virginia Capital. Lawmakers were divided, polarized by the Voter ID bill.

"Both sides see this as an issue that's at the heart of democracy," said election law expert Stephen Piepgrass.

The Virginia bill eventually passed the House and Senate and now rest in the hands of the Governor.

The bill requires that Virginia voters must bring proof of identity to the polls in order to vote.

That could include photo ID, a student ID, an electric bill or a paycheck. If voters have none of those things they can’t vote provisionally and return within a week with proper proof.

Texas and South Carolina passed voter id bills and both have been challenged in court.

On Monday, Texas was told by the US Justice Department that their voter id law would discriminate against minority voters, specifically Hispanic voters who would be more likely not to have a photo id.

So will Virginia's bill be destined for the same?

"It will have to clear those hurdles and this is a sign that the justice department is scrutinizing these bills very closely," said Piepgrass.

Election law experts also point out that Virginia's law is more flexible than the Texas version, allowing voters to bring multiple forms of id rather than strictly requiring a photo. But for all states involved political timing is now of the essence.

"This is an extremely divisive issue and both parties are going to use it to motivate voters come November," said political analyst Bob Holsworth.

If the Virginia voter id bill does become law, the justice department will have to approve it. It could mean another legal showdown. Holsworth is confident the governor will sign it and defend it.

"He's likely going to point out the differences in the Virginia law and make the argument that this is why the justice department ought to approve it," said Holsworth.