WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Feb. 2, the Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would tighten ID requirements to vote. Currently, Virginia requires voters to prove their identity at the polls with a range of options. House Bill 1444 would remove “voter confirmation documents,” current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document containing the name and address of the voter from the list of acceptable identification. H.B. 1444 would only permit Virginia driver’s licenses, United States passports, student IDs with a photo or employee identification cards with a photo.
Additionally, H.B. 1444 would remove the option for voters to sign a sworn affidavit if they lack acceptable ID. Instead, they would be handed a provisional ballot that would not be counted unless they return with an acceptable ID. Early (“in person absentee”) voters would also be required to show photo ID.
Virginia adopted its current voter ID law in February 2013, just a few months before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance regime which would have required Virginia to get federal approval for such election law changes. In 2020, when Democrats controlled the General Assembly and the governorship, Democrats repealed the photo ID requirement and added the sworn affidavit option. Yet, in 2021, Republicans regained narrow control of the House of Delegates, making the Virginia General Assembly one of the few divided state legislatures in the country.
H.B. 1444 passed 52 to 48 in the House on purely partisan lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. Its passage comes on the heels of the Virginia House advancing bills that would ban drop boxes in the state, cut the early in-person voting period by 31 days and risk criminalizing third-party organizations sending absentee ballot applications. All of these anti-voting bills are unlikely to advance in the Democratic-controlled state Senate.