RICHMOND, Va. — With a tie-breaking vote from Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Senate Republicans passed legislation Tuesday that would force voters to carry photo identification with them to the polls beginning in 2014.
Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain’s bill resulted in a 20-20 party-line deadlock. Bolling, who as president of the Senate votes only to break ties, cast only his fourth tie-breaker of the 2013 legislature, all of them since Monday.
The bill now heads to the House, where a similar photo ID requirement by Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, was quietly killed in an early morning voice vote in a subcommittee.
Obenshain and Bell are rivals for the Republican nomination for this fall’s election for attorney general.
Bolling’s first tie-breaker came Monday when he sided with Democrats to amend a related Republican bill limiting acceptable forms of voter ID. He supported an amendment delaying the bill’s effective date for a year, allowing time for funding to inform voters about the change.
At every step, Bolling kept Obenshain’s bill from dying on a tie vote. His second tie-breaker was Tuesday morning when he opposed a Democratic amendment similar to the one he had supported just a day earlier.
Bolling said his vote changed because Obenshain’s bill already contained a provision delaying its enactment to 2014 instead of this fall.
His third tie-breaker was to engross and advance the charged partisan measure to Tuesday’s vote on final passage.
Democrats said the bill is another Republican effort to deter Democratic constituencies such as minorities, the elderly, disabled and poor from voting by erecting a new barrier for people least likely to have identification cards bearing a photo.
Obenshain noted that the bill would permit use of driver’s licenses and passports, and that any registered voter who lacks a photo ID could have one made for free simply by requesting one from a local election registrar.
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