Virginia GOP no longer even trying to hide true purpose of voter ID laws

Concealed carry permits, but not utility bills, now accepted at Virginia polling places

By Alex Pareene

Published February 5, 2013 9:13PM (EST)

People line up to vote in the early morning at City Hall in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)    (Gerald Herbert)
People line up to vote in the early morning at City Hall in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Gerald Herbert)

The Virginia Legislature has just passed new voter ID laws severely restricting the number of documents voters can use to prove their identity. Because "voter fraud" is not actually a real problem, Virginia's Republican legislative majority was free to make the rules as hilariously arbitrary as they wanted. And they honestly couldn't have made their actual intentions -- the suppression of undesirable poor/minority votes -- more plain.

From the Lynchburg News & Advance (via TPM):

The Senate legislation, and a companion measure -- House Bill 1337, sponsored by Del. Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, which cleared the House of Delegates today on a 63-36 vote -- would eliminate the use of a utility bill, pay stub, bank statement, government check and Social Security card as acceptable identification that can be presented at the polls. Voters would still be able to use a voter identification card, concealed handgun permit, driver's license and student ID card.

That's right. You can no longer prove your identity with a utility bill or Social Security card -- you know, two of the forms of ID you can use to prove your identity when you're getting a driver's license -- but that concealed handgun permit is A-OK.

That may seem too obviously a method of making sure this bill only affects Democratic-voting Virginians and not conservative white Virginians, but this was actually a compromise from an earlier, even more blatant version of the bill. I can now reveal what Virginia Republicans initially proposed as acceptable forms of ID for voting in the commonwealth:

  • A subscriber copy of Reader's Digest
  • A ticket stub from a The Band Perry concert
  • A pouch of chaw
  • Ability to recite the Paul Harvey Super Bowl ad
  • A bar of gold
  • A Hokies or Cavaliers football jersey. (NOTE: BASKETBALL JERSEY NOT ACCEPTABLE ID.)
  • A survial seed kit
  • A Confederate flag on which you've written your address
  • A gun.

While none of those made the final cut as acceptable ID, Virginia will continue to ensure the sanctity of its elections by making voters in certain precincts stand in line for four hours.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Politics Republican Party Virginia Voter Fraud Voter Id