Senate Passes Bill to Simplify Absentee Voting

RICHMOND—The Democratic-led Senate of Virginia today passed SB83expanding access to absentee ballots and making it easier for all Virginians to participate in the electoral process. Sponsored by Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), the bill will allow any qualified voter to cast an absentee ballot in person without providing an excuse or reason they cannot vote on Election Day.

            “It is unfair to make people who want to vote absentee go through unnecessary hoops,” said Sen. Janet Howell, the bill’s patron. “There is no need to turn registered voters into scofflaws.”

Virginia voters are currently required to meet one of a series of excuses in order to vote absentee. SB83 will simplify and streamline the current process by removing the requirement of an excuse for those wishing to vote absentee in person. Individuals wishing to vote absentee by mail would still be required to meet one of the statutory excuses.

In the 2008 presidential election, over 323,000 Virginians voted absentee in person. If enacted, Virginia would join 32 other states that currently allow no excuse, in person absentee voting.

“Family emergencies, extreme weather and even traffic can keep many voters from getting to the polls on Election Day, especially in Northern Virginia, said Senator Howell. “Nothing as arbitrary as traffic should keep Virginians from exercising their right to vote.”

            SB83 passed the Senate by a vote of 29-10. Voting was as follows:

YEAS—29

Barker, Blevins, Colgan, Deeds, Edwards, Herring, Houck, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, McWaters, Miller, J.C., Miller, Y.B., Norment, Northam, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Reynolds, Saslaw, Ticer, Vogel, Wagner, Wampler, Watkins, Whipple

NAYS—10

Hanger, Hurt, Martin, McDougle, Newman, Obenshain, Ruff, Smith, Stosch, Stuart.

 

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