Federal judge upholds Virginia voter photo ID law


Published May 19, 2016 11:30PM (EDT)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday upheld Virginia's 2013 law requiring voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls.

The Virginia Democratic Party sued state elections officials, saying the photo ID requirement unconstitutionally suppresses voting by blacks, Latinos and young people.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson wrote that the Democratic Party did not prove that the law violates the Voting Rights Act or several constitutional amendments, The Richmond Times Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1TssYVZ).

While agreeing that the merits of the voter ID law can be debated, Hudson wrote, "it remains true that Virginia has created a scheme of laws to accommodate all people in their right to vote. From in-person voting, to an absentee option, to provisional ballots with the ability to cure, and the provision of free voter IDs, Virginia has provided all of its citizens with an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process."

In a trial in February, the Democrats' attorney, Bruce Spiva, said Republicans deliberately passed a discriminatory law because they saw the state's demographics shifting to their detriment after President Barack Obama carried Virginia in back-to-back elections.

Mark F. Hearne II, an attorney for the Virginia election officials, argued that the law is a "racially neutral" attempt to prevent voter fraud and inspire public confidence in elections.

The law requires a voter to have one of the following: a Virginia driver's license; a U.S. passport or any other photo ID issued by the U.S., Virginia or one of its political subdivisions; a student ID issued by any institution of higher learning in Virginia; an employee identification card; or another form of acceptable photo ID.



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