RICHMOND — The Virginia House of Delegates passed two major conservative priorities Wednesday — one that would require voters to present identification before being allowed to cast an official ballot and another that would repeal the state's ban on purchasing more than one handgun a month.
Under current Virginia law, if a person cannot produce proper identification at the polls, they can simply sign a sworn statement attesting that they are who they say they are. The bill passed Wednesday would allow them to vote, but would count their ballot provisionally.
Proponents say that without the proper measures, a person could conceivably cast multiple ballots that would be irrevocable once recorded.
"We're just trying to make sure that the right person wins," said Delegate Timothy D. Hugo, Fairfax Republican. "What we are attempting to do to protect the integrity of the vote — we are not trying to disenfranchise anybody."
But the emotionally charged measure has been decried as a return to the Jim Crow era by Democrats, who say it will disproportionately impact the poor, elderly and minorities who may not be able to show proper ID.
Gun-rights advocates also scored a long-sought win with the House's Wednesday vote to repeal the state's longstanding ban on purchasing more than one handgun per month.
Proponents of the bill argue that updated technology and background checks have rendered the law unnecessary, and that numerous exemptions and loopholes in the law do nothing but serve to discriminate against law-abiding citizens. Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has indicated his support to repeal the law.
"There are those of us in this body who believe that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental constitutional right," said Delegate C. Todd Gilbert, Shenandoah Republican.
But opponents argue that reversing the law, passed in the 1990s to limit illegal gun trafficking from Virginia, would be a step backwards.
"We will return to the days where we were the gun capital of the South," said Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey, Henrico Democrat.
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