Senate Democrats Applaud Absentee Voting Bills

RICHMOND – Today, Senate Democrats celebrated the passage of two bills that make it easier for Virginia voters to cast absentee ballots.

The bills, SB 937 and SB 949, make major changes to the state's current voting and election codes.  The first of the two measures, sponsored by Sen. John Miller (D-Newport News), entitles Virginians age 65 or older to vote by absentee ballot. The second bill, SB949, introduced by Sen. Janet Howell (D- Reston) made further changes to the law.

Under the legislation, any registered voter may cast an absentee ballot in person without providing an excuse for why they cannot vote on Election Day. 

Howell and fellow Senate Democrats applauded passage of the bills. 

"Senate Democrats are very proud of these bills. As lawmakers, it is our obligation to make sure that our election process is simple, effective and doesn’t disenfranchise any segment of the voting population," said Democratic Senate Caucus Chair Mary Margaret Whipple.

"We ought to make voting as accessible as possible and this law allows seniors to cast the ballot when it’s convenient for them," said Miller.

"Over 325,000 Virginians voted in-person absentee in 2008. Many of them were discouraged when they showed up and were told they had to give an excuse. They either had to exaggerate or go home. It's time the law caught up with how Virginians are voting," said Howell.

These bills have passed the Senate for the last several years and have been killed by the Republican-dominated House of Delegates.

"Democrats in the Senate have taken another step in making a right of democracy accessible for Virginia voters. We ask Governor McDonnell to support making it easier for Virginians to vote and urge Republicans in the House to do the same," said Keiana Page, communications director of the Democratic Senate Caucus.

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