Voter photo ID bill, likened to poll tax, heads to McDonnell

Posted at 5:57 PM, Feb 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-21 18:03:40-05

RICHMOND, VA. (WTVR) -- Do Virginians side with Democrats or Republicans when it comes to mandating photo ID at the polls?

It is a question that many experts have wondered especially in the aftermath of both chambers of the General Assembly approving SB1256 -- a bill that would require a photo ID to be presented at the polls in order to vote.

Under the bill, if a person does not have a photo ID they could go to their local registrar office and get one.

"It is bad policy, bad governance, and I hope the body will reject it," Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico) said on the floor moments before House passage.

"That ladies and gentleman is a poll tax which has been declared illegal in this country," Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) added to the floor debate.

But less than 24 hours after the House passed SB1256, a new Quinnipiac University poll overwhelmingly shows support for the Republican-backed measure.

Overall 75 percent of Virginians support photo ID to vote, including 57 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of all African-Americans.

Delegate McClellan told CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George that the poll does not make her out of touch with Virginians.

"No, fifty years ago a majority of  Virginians thought segregation was a good idea but that doesn't make it right," McClellan responded.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Senator Mark Obenshain, said the poll validates what he has been saying all along.

"It didn't surprise me in the slightest. This has enjoyed bipartisan approval," Obenshain said.

The bill now heads to Gov. Bob McDonnell for approval.

While the Governor has not said whether he will sign it or not, ultimately the Department of Justice will have to sign off on the measure since Virginia is a voting rights state.