VIRGINIA SENATE DEMOCRATS PASS EXPANDED ABSENTEE VOTING
(Richmond, Va.) – Democratic senators passed a bill today to allow in-person, no-excuse absentee voting, making the election process easier and available to more voters. This was one of the bills highlighted during the first week of the legislative session.
In a near party-line vote, every Democrat and only three Republicans approved S.B. 810, which allows voters to cast absentee ballots in person without having to give an excuse. Sixteen Republicans voted against the measure.
Currently, Virginia voters have to give one of 17 reasons before they are allowed to cast absentee ballots. And long lines on Election Day deter voters from entering booths.
The new measure would expand the absentee voting process by allowing Virginians to cast an absentee ballot without having to give an excuse during the 45-day absentee voting period. The expanded timeframe cushions the Election Day process by reducing lines and the chance of problems at polling sites.
Last year, more than 321,000 Virginia voters cast in-person, absentee ballots.
“They’re doing it because they think it’s convenient, and they want to make sure their votes count,” said Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County), the bill’s patron. “I think it is really incumbent on us to catch up with the way Virginians are already acting.”
Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington), Senate Democratic Caucus Chair said, “This is really a no-brainer. As long as a citizen is qualified to vote, why wouldn’t we want to make it easier for them to vote absentee?”