As a voter, I found the new polling location on Ridgetop Circle in Sterling to be more a cause for concern than a cause for celebration.
Two not very large rooms, one that dead-ends into another, were allocated as the voting area. The doorway into each room could accommodate only one individual at a time. This seemed like an odd choice for a spot that would be experiencing sometimes heavy two-way traffic throughout the day. It also seemed like an extraordinary fire hazard, as I watched the rooms fill up with citizens waiting to vote.
In addition, at least one poll worker seemed to have her own idea of the type of identification required for voting. After one voter rooted around for identification that would meet that poll worker’s requirements, eventually finding a driver’s license, the worker said loudly, “That’s the gold standard around here.”
Moments later, I learned that this “gold standard” was being applied with more vigor than the actual law of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
When I handed my voter registration card, still attached to the brochure it was mailed in, to the poll worker, she asked me for a driver’s license, a government ID or any ID with a photo on it. When I said that, according to the brochure, the voter registration card was acceptable identification, she paused and looked at me as if I’d been rude to contradict her. I stood there quietly and, after a few moments—and an odd glance that she directed at the poll-watcher behind her (who was talking with his fellow poll-watcher, and not looking in our direction)—I was allowed to pass to the next stop, where I could pick up a ballot.
In case you’re wondering—and in case someone wouldn’t let you vote without showing “a driver’s license, government i.d. or any i.d. with a photo on it,” many forms of voter identification are acceptable by law in Virginia. According to the brochure attached to your voter registration card, these include: “your attached voter registration card; a valid Virginia driver’s license or ID card; ID issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia, a political subdivision, or the U.S. government; a concealed handgun permit; a valid employee ID card containing a photograph;" and additional forms of identification listed online at ww.sbe.virginia.gov.