Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Elections
State Board of Elections
Voter Registration [1 VAC 20 ‑ 40]
Chapter is Exempt from Article 2 of the Administrative Process Act
Action Revise Valid Definition
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ended on 8/4/2014
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7/20/14  10:46 am
Commenter: Christopher Ambrose

SBE should reject Poltical Pressure to adopt unwarrented rules

The (stated) intent of a photo ID law is to establish the identity of the voter.   The thought that an authentic ID that has a photo that clearly identifies the voter should not be allowed simply because it is expired should be offensive to anyone who believes in the democratic process.  An expiration date has nothing to do with identifying the voter which is why the SBE unanimously adopted regulations that permitted such IDs.

However, even more amusing is that many of the comments here mimic Senator Obenshain’s view that it should be more difficult in the Commonwealth of Virginia to cast a ballot than secure a drivers license (surprised? Read on).

Several commenters indicated that an expired license should not be permitted without providing any evidence as to why such a restriction should exist or how it would increase the integrity of the vote.  Ironically, if one believes that for an ID to be “valid” as an identity document for voting, it has to be unexpired, they would have to oppose these regulations.  Clearly, the SBE does not view that the law requires them to accept only unexpired IDs because these proposed regulations still accept them, just with an arbitrary cut off.

One such comment by Fairfax City Electoral Board member, John Harold stated “I am quite certain that presenting an expired drivers license to a state trooper will get me a summons for driving on an expired (thus invalid) license.”  This comment parroted Obenshain’s view that he articulated in his letter saying that nobody could be employed as a driver with an expired driver’s license.  To be sure, Obenshain was shameless in his willingness to improperly put political pressure on the SBE to reverse its very sensible guidelines that established a process that would confirm the identity of the voter with as little impact on voting rights as possible.

Perhaps it needs to be spelled out for people like Mr. Harold and Mr. Obenshain: NOBODY IS SUGGESTING THAT VOTERS WITH EXPIRED DRIVER’S LISCENSES BE ALLOWED TO DRIVE TO THE POLLS TO VOTE!

Anyone who does not understand that fact, should not be on an Electoral Board or, certainly, Attorney General.  Of course, we know very well, that these people DO understand, they just want rules that will make it more difficult to vote, which is an even greater disqualifier for someone to be in those positions.

Obenshain also states that the federal government would never allow someone to enter the country on an expired passport.  Once again, this distorts the issue at hand.  The official use of the form of ID is not what is important.  What is important is does the ID verify that the voter is who they say they are.  However, since he raises the issue, it should be pointed out that prior to 9/11 the federal government DID accept expired passports as a valid identity document to enter from select countries. Much more recently, an expired passport was still accepted by the federal government for certain applications such as proof of citizenship.

Perhaps the most appalling argument by people such as Obenshain and Harold is the view that it should be tougher for a citizen to exercise their right to vote than secure a driver’s license.  The Commonwealth of Virginia, like the federal government, accepts expired IDs as official all the time.  For example, an expired passport is an adequate ID to get a Virginia driver’s license.  Thus, were the proposed SBE regulations adopted, a situation would exist where a voter would be denied the right to vote if they showed an expired passport, but would be allowed to vote if they used that same passport to secure a driver’s license first.  There is no logic in such a regime and it would never stand a legal challenge. 

The SBE should reject the politicization of their regulatory process and stand by the regulations adopted on June 13, 2014.  Bowing to political pressure to change them now would not only have the potential to deny voters the right to vote, create mass confusion since the June 13th regulations have already been circulated, place the commonwealth in a precarious legal position, but would irreparably damage the SBE by demonstrating that it makes decisions based on political pressure rather than the interests of voters.

CommentID: 33425