It’s official: All Virginia voters will be required next year to show photo identification when they go to vote.
Gov. Bob McDonnell signed a bill Tuesday that his fellow Republicans said was a safeguard against voter fraud.
The measure eliminates “all forms of identification that do not contain a photograph of the voter from [a provided] list of forms of identification any one of which a voter must present in order to be allowed to vote,” a summary of the bill reads.
“The bill does not affect the right of a voter who does not present one of the required forms of identification to cast a provisional ballot,” it adds.
Democrats bitterly denounced the legislation as a Jim Crow-era tactic to suppress the votes of the elderly, minorities, and the underprivileged.
McDonnell signed the legislation “with the recognition that almost all citizens already have acceptable forms of photo ID that would allow them to vote and a majority of voters support this policy,” he said in a statement.
The legislation provides for a free valid ID with the bearer’s photo to any registered voter who lacks one.
Along with signing the legislation, McDonnell issued an executive order directing the State Board of Elections to start a public education program to tell voters about the new requirement before the 2014 congressional and U.S. Senate elections.
“A similar bill in Arkansas was vetoed on Monday by Democratic Governor Mike Beebe, who said it might disenfranchise voters,” Reuters reports.
Nearly three dozen states that have similar voter ID measures, the report adds, citing the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Here’s the full text to SB 1256:
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.