Legislation advances with Dems’ support; some or most GOP senators oppose each bill

Richmond, Va. – This afternoon, the Virginia Senate passed a number of bills that would better protect voters’ ability to cast meaningful ballots in fair, competitive elections — partly by making it easier to vote, and partly by reducing politicians’ ability to handpick their constituents during redistricting. Democrats provided a majority of the votes to pass each of the following:

On the topic of absentee and early voting:

  • SB106, patroned by Senator Rosalyn Dance (D-Petersburg), which would allow early voting (i.e., no-excuse in-person absentee voting) in Virginia, passed the Senate 21-19;
  • SB188, sponsored by Senator John Miller (D-Newport News), which would allow no-excuse absentee voting by persons aged 65 or older, passed the Senate 33-7; and
  • SB603, sponsored by Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), a compromise bill which would allow early voting on a more limited basis, passed the Senate 27-13.

On the topic of redistricting:

  • SB59, co-patroned by Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), which would establish redistricting criteria that effectively prohibit political gerrymanders, passed the Senate 36-3; and
  • SB191, patroned by Senator John Miller (D-Newport News), which provides for an advisory voter referendum on creation of an independent redistricting commission, passed the Senate 31-9.

Said Senator Dance, “We must do a better job of removing barriers that currently prevent Virginians from participating in elections. There are so many reasons why people aren’t able to get to the polls on Election Day. My bill expands opportunities for these Virginians to still be able to cast their ballot, and not be disenfranchised because they end up working all day on Election Day or get called out of town for a family emergency.”

Said Senator Miller, “Virginians aged 65 and over have done so much for our Commonwealth. They have taught our children, they have built our roads, they have created jobs, they have fought for us overseas. We owe it to them to allow them to avoid waiting in long lines at the polls on Election Day, and make no-excuse absentee voting a reality for senior citizens.”

Said Senator Howell, “We are in dire need of greater transparency and greater accountability in our redistricting process. The criteria that we use must be in the best interest of Virginians, not in the best interest of their elected officials.”

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