Thu | Nov 15, 2018

Black woman testifies at Virginia voter ID trial

Published:Monday | February 22, 2016 | 11:04 PM
Kara Bonham, at left, registers to vote for the Democratic caucus at the University of Nevada, on the weekend.
South Carolina voters arrive to vote in the Republican presidential primary, on the weekend.


A 69-year-old black woman who grew up in a small, segregated town wept on the witness stand as she testified about the trouble she had voting in the 2014 election in Virginia.

Josephine Okiakpe said yesterday that she produced several forms of identification, but did not have a photo ID that was considered acceptable under a 2013 law that is being challenged by the Democratic Party of Virginia. She cried as she recalled others looking at her and snickering, leaving her upset and frustrated.

She was given a provisional ballot, which ultimately was counted, but said the experience undermined her confidence in the way Virginia conducts elections.

Okiakpe testified in federal court as the trial began on the Democratic Party?s lawsuit. Democrats claim the voter ID law illegally suppresses voting by minorities and young people.

A lawyer for the Democratic Party of Virginia told a federal judge that the state?s voter ID law was enacted by Republicans to suppress voting by minorities and young people.

An attorney for state election officials countered that the law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls is a racially neutral measure to prevent voter fraud and boost public confidence in the integrity of elections.

The lawyers outlined their positions in opening statements yesterday, in a trial that is expected to last at least a week and will not affect the state?s March 1 primaries. Democrats filed the lawsuit last year challenging the constitutionality of the voter ID law, which was approved in 2013 by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

More than 30 states have some form of voter ID requirement, and lawsuits are pending in several states. A six-day trial on North Carolina?s law wrapped up February 1, and the judge is expected to rule in a few weeks.

(chose the better pic)