January 22, 2013
SB 1256 imposes burdensome new voter identification requirements, could cost Virginia millions of dollars to implement, and may ensnare Virginia in costly litigation. As currently drafted, this legislation would require photo proof of identification at the polling place. In order to pass constitutional muster, a photo identification requirement must be accompanied by a number of actions on the part of the state in order to minimize the impact on potential voters. This includes (1) the provision of free photo IDs to voters who do not have a valid photo ID, including making the process of getting an ID accessible and no-cost, and (2) undertaking a public education and outreach campaign to inform voters of the new requirements. In addition to these constitutional requirements, Virginia would face new costs due to the need to (1) provide training to local election officials to ensure proper implementation of the new provisions and (2) process additional provisional ballots. Based on estimates from other states, implementation of SB1256 could cost between $7.3 million and $21.8 million.