The Washington Times - August 21, 2012, 07:41AM

The U.S. Department of Justice has signed off on Virginia’s voter identification law that will now require voters without proper identification to cast their ballots provisionally, rather than signing a sworn affidavit attesting to their identity.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said he was “please” that DOJ granted pre-clearance to the “commonplace legislation.”

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“This significant step ensures that every Virginia voter is guaranteed to have at least one of the many different valid forms of ID required to be presented at the polls,” he said. “Protecting against voter fraud and making sure our elections are secure are critical for confidence in our democracy. The legislation I signed into law is a practical and reasonable step to make our elections more secure while also ensuring access to the ballot box for all qualified voters.”

Virginia is one of a handful of mostly southern states that must “pre-clear” any changes in its voter laws with the federal government because of a history of racial discrimination at the polls.

When Mr. McDonnell signed the law, he issued an executive order directing the state Board of Elections to send every active, registered Virginia voter a new voter card.

The announcement comes in the middle of a national controversy over similar but stricter laws in other states, such as South Carolina and Pennsylvania (unlike other states, Virginia’s law does not necessarily require photo identification). Republicans have insisted that the laws are intended to crack down on voter fraud, while Democrats argue they are meant to suppress the vote of minorities, the elderly and the poor.

A Pennsylvania judge upheld a law last week requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote.