BY JIM NOLAN Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Virginia Department of Elections has determined that expired but otherwise valid forms of identification permitted under Virginia’s new photo voter ID law will be accepted at the polls.

The board reached the decision at its meeting on Tuesday in Richmond, addressing concerns that the only photo identification in the possession of some voters might be an expired driver’s license or passport.

Board Secretary Don Palmer explained the decision, noting that the purpose of the photo ID law is to confirm the identification of the voter, not other information such as the individual’s driving status or address.

“So if you have one of the designated forms of ID, then even if it is expired, you can use it for voting purposes,” he said. “We think the (state) code provides that flexibility. We just think it’s good policy.”

The photo voter ID law is set to take effect July 1, well in advance of the November congressional elections. Any voter who does not have an approved photo identification will be able to apply for one with registrars in any locality, where they will be provided a free photo ID.

The law stirred controversy when it was passed, with Democrats claiming requirement of photo identification would suppress the vote and disenfranchise some Virginians, especially the elderly, minorities and poor rural residents.

An executive order signed by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell shortly after the law passed in 2013 instructed election officials to make the procedure as easy and convenient as possible.
Palmer said registrars will have the capacity to provide temporary photo IDs to registered voters when they apply as a “fail safe” if their permanent IDs do not arrive on time. He also said that beginning in August, the state will have the capacity to go mobile and process IDs outside of the registrars’ offices.

“We just want voters to know it’s free, easy and fully accessible for all citizens of the commonwealth,” Palmer said.