Virginia Elections Board: Expired Photo IDs Are 'Valid' For Voting

July 31, 2014 - 11:42 AM

Charles Judd

Virginia State Board of Elections chairman Charles Judd (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Virginia’s State Board of Elections (SBE) has proposed changing the definition of the word “valid” in the commonwealth’s new voter ID law so that a resident can register to vote and cast a ballot with an expired identification card.

The revision was adopted by the board on June 10.

“What we are after is to find out if this person representing themselves at the polls is who they say they are,” SBE Chairman Charles Judd said. “Then we have achieved what we need to achieve.”

However, the law’s patron, state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), challenged the board’s action in a June 16 letter to SBE Secretary Don Palmer, claiming it “violates the plain meaning of the statute.”

“’Valid’ is not a term of art or a term susceptible to confusion. It has a plain meaning,” Obenshain wrote.

“The action of the Board seeks to define ‘valid’ as including ‘invalid’…Had the General Assembly desired to accept expired forms of identification, it would not have adopted legislation expressly requiring such identification to be valid without any language indicating a construction exceeding the plain meaning of that term," he said.

But Palmer defended the revision in a statement to Watchdog.org, pointing out that “there is no statutory definition of ‘valid’.” 

"SBE has carefully determined the appropriate change to policy and the prudent time to make any necessary adjustments," Palmer stated.

On June 24, SBE agreed to allow the public to comment on the revision on its Regulatory Town Hall website until August 4. Over 400 people have commented so far.

On August 6, the board will meet in the Virginia General Assembly building to review the comments and finalize or reject the revision to the new voter ID law, which went into effect July 1st.

VA state Sen. Mark Obenshain

Virginia state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) (AP photo)

The law requires officers of election to “ask the voter to present any one of the following forms of identification: his valid Virginia drivers license, his valid United States passport, or any other photo identification issued by the Commonwealth, one of its political subdivisions, or the United States, any valid student identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth, or any valid employee identification card containing a photograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of the employer’s business.”

Voters who do not have any of the above IDs can get one for free at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) after presenting the required proof of identity.

The proposed revision states that “‘valid’ for all purposes related to voter identification shall mean documents having legal effect, legally or officially acceptable or of binding force and appearing to be genuinely issued by the agency or issuing entity appearing upon the document where the bearer of the document reasonably appears to be the person whose photograph is contained thereon. Such documents shall be accepted up to 30 days after expiration.”

Elections officials in Virginia have already been told that they can accept expired photo IDs from people registering to vote, an SBE spokeswoman said.

“The way it is written today, an expired ID would be acceptable,” Rose Mansfield, executive assistant to the SBE, confirmed to CNSNews.com. “After August 6, we’ll see what happens.”