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GOP lawmakers’ cure for long lines at the polls? More queues and more costs for new photo IDs.
Friday, March 29, 2013
High voter turnout, computer shortages and voter confusion about where to vote created long lines at the polls in last November’s presidential election. People in some Virginia localities, including Roanoke and Montgomery County, had to wait hours to cast their ballot — in some cases, well after polls closed.
So of course, lawmakers fairly flew to Richmond in January, burning with zeal to bust down the barriers that so recently made exercising a basic right of citizenship into a grueling test of physical endurance. One would think.
Instead, Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain put in a bill he first filed in 2005 to require voters to present a photo ID at the polls. This year, the Republican-dominated General Assembly passed it, and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it into law — effective not this November, but in 2014. That’s if the U.S. Department of Justice finds it is not intended to suppress minority votes and gives its OK.
Never mind that a new voter ID law had just gone into effect last November, sans a photo requirement, and had cost the state almost $2 million: the price of sending every registered voter a new ID and educating the public on the new law’s provisions.
Next year, taxpayers can expect to shell out another $170,000 just to buy the cameras and other equipment registrars offices will need to supply free photo IDs to registered voters who lack them. Then another $200K a year for three more years to explain to voters that those new identification requirements they just learned about? Those have been changed, and you, your mother and your elderly aunt just might need to come down to the office to get your pictures taken.
All to protect Virginia from voter fraud that exists almost exclusively in the fevered imaginations of Republicans.
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