VA House Advances No-Excuse Absentee, Postmark Rules

[Image via wttw]

Virginia’s House of Delegates has enacted a series of changes to the state’s absentee ballot laws, including no-excuse absentee and a “postmark rule” for ballot return. WTOP’s Max Smith has more:

Major voting changes approved by Virginia’s House of Delegates Thursday include no-excuse absentee voting and extending the deadline for absentee ballots to arrive and be counted.

There were cheers in the chamber as the House voted 65-35 in favor of no-excuse absentee voting. Currently, voters must provide a qualifying reason to vote early. This fall, that is already slated to change for in-person absentee voting only starting two Saturdays before Election Day.

The House also voted unanimously to extend the deadline for absentee ballots to be counted from the current requirement — that they be received by the time polls closed — to a new deadline of noon on the Friday following the election. Ballots would still need to be postmarked before polls close.

The House also opened up permanent absentee balloting to all voters and eliminated the practice of announcing a voter’s address at the polls:

In a 53-46 vote, the House endorsed expanding the permanent absentee voter list beyond disabled voters so that you would not need to apply for an absentee ballot separately for each election. For voters getting the ballot sent somewhere in the U.S. other than the address where they are registered to vote, the list would allow a voter to apply for an absentee ballot for both a primary and the following General Election at the same time.

For people voting in person, poll workers would no longer say your address out loud when they check you in. The privacy protection measure passed 100-0…

Each of the House bills now goes to the Senate, which is also controlled by a Democratic majority.

These bills are also expected to pass in the Senate and be enacted by the governor – which will mean significant changes in absentee balloting in the Old Dominion starting this fall. As with any change, it will be interesting to see how these changes are implemented at the local level and what that means for the Election Day experience – and post-election process – in 2020 and beyond. Stay tuned …

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