Photo identification will be needed to vote in Virginia - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Photo identification will be needed to vote in Virginia

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Do you have a photo ID in your wallet? If not, you won't be able to vote in Virginia next year.

Tuesday, Governor McDonnell signed the measure into law, and controversy is brewing over whether it will keep some voters away from the polls.

Everyone from politicians to pastors are weighing in on this new law that requires a photo ID when you head to the polls - and not everyone is excited.

"Mark my words. There's going to be tremendous problems with this," said Delegate Joe Morrissey.

"This is law. We have to do it," said Pastor Marlon Haskell of Chicago Avenue Baptist.

Haskell is just getting word. You will now have to show a photo ID to vote in any Virginia election. Last year, his church made sure members were registered and even gave rides to the polls.

"Bus, vans, we worked a community effort around the clock to make sure people got to the voting places who wanted to go," he said.

Now he says, that mission will continue, even if it means helping people get rides to get a photo ID.

"Few things in our democracy are as important as the integrity of our elections. This change will bring Virginia into line with other states that have taken common-sense measures to protect one of our most fundamental rights, while at the same time ensuring that every eligible voter is able to participate in the process," said Garren Shipley with the Republican Party of Virginia.

Some don't buy it.

"There hasn't been one incident in one city or county in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the last 5 years where somebody attempted to represent themselves as someone they're not," Morrissey said.

He believes the law targets minorities and the elderly.

"Lots of our grandparents don't have the benefit of a government-issued license or some type of photo ID but they want to exercise their franchise, this will prevent them from doing that," the delegate added.

Per the law, the state will give a free photo ID to anyone who needs one. All you have to do is go to your local registrar's office.

"Easy for you to say for those people like you and me that have no problem driving down to the registrar, but for more people, it's more complicated than that and is another impediment that's not necessary to prevent people from voting," Morrissey said.

Haskell says he anticipates concerns from his congregation but is ready for the conversation.

"Let us help you to overcome those challenge so you can vote," he said.

The law goes into effect July of 2014.

The State Board of Elections is preparing a $200,000 a year campaign to alert the public of the new voter law. It is also looking for a vendor so that registrar's offices will have the ability to take photos. Elections officials hope to begin issuing the photo identifications later this year.

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