Stay in the know! Sign up to get Fauquier County news updates delivered to your inbox.
Advertise on Fauquier Now!
FauquierNow.com
Will you fill out a bracket for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? Vote!
HOME OBITUARIES NEWS HOME & GARDEN OPINIONS BUSINESS STYLE CALENDAR CLASSIFIEDS
Free classifieds! Members can also post calendar events, news, opinions and more ... all for free! Register now!
Login · Forgot Your Password?
January 11, 2017

Virginia governor pushes for easier absentee voting

To vote absentee in Virginia, a citizen must complete an application citing one of the accepted reasons.
If Virginia law limits no-excuse absentee voting to in-person only, qualified voters may be excluded from participating based upon a lack of readily accessible transportation, geography, income status, physical disabilities, and the constraints of modern-day individuals and families.
— Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union
2017 General Assembly
• Convenes: Noon Wednesday, Jan. 11

• Adjourns: Saturday, Feb. 25

• Website: virginiageneralassembly.gov


Fauquier’s legislators


• Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-27th/Upperville).

• Del. Michael Webert (R-18th/Marshall).

• Del. Scott Limgamfelter (R-31st/Woodbridge).

• Del. Mark Cole (R-88th/Fredericksburg).
By Julie Rothey
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – To vote absentee in Virginia, you must cite a specific excuse, such as attending college or having a disability.

But if Gov. Terry McAuliffe has his way, the state would expand the list of excuses to include people caring for children or for an ill or disabled individual and anyone without reliable transportation. Better yet, Gov. McAuliffe says, Virginians should be able to vote absentee without having to give an excuse.

Gov. McAuliffe is urging the General Assembly to approve those proposals during the legislative session that began Wednesday.

The Democratic governor, in the final year of his term, discussed the proposals at a news conference Tuesday. “These reforms will make it easier for Virginians to have a say in their democracy and boost their confidence that politicians are working for the public good, not their own,” he said.

Right now, to vote absentee in person, a voter must meet one of “13 arbitrary rules” that also apply to mail-in absentee voting, Gov. McAuliffe said. For example, caregivers must be related to the individual they care for to vote absentee under current law.

Besides expanding the list of excuses to vote absentee, Gov. McAuliffe urged lawmakers to approve “no-excuse, in-person absentee voting.” He called for “legislation that permits any registered voter of the commonwealth to vote absentee in-person beginning 21 days before an election until 5 p.m. on the Saturday before the election,” with the same check-in procedures as on Election Day.

Gov. McAuliffe also said he wants to repeal Virginia’s photo identification requirements for voters.

Those who passed this law “hung on the charade of voter fraud,” Gov. McAuliffe said. But he added, “Here in the commonwealth of Virginia, there is not a shred of voter fraud evidence.”

Republicans have strongly supported requiring voters to show a photo ID. Ed Gillespie, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in this year’s election, criticized Gov. McAuliffe’s proposal to eliminate the photo ID mandate.

Gov. McAuliffe’s recommendation “is out-of-step with the people of the commonwealth,” Mr. Gillespie said in a news release Tuesday.

The photo identification requirement “secures the integrity of our elections and guarantees fair and equitable ballot access for all voters, despite the alarmist and false rhetoric of some,” Mr. Gillespie said. He promised to protect the existing law if he were elected governor.

Several Democratic lawmakers have submitted legislation to carry out Gov. McAuliffe’s proposals to make voting easier:

Del. Richard “Rip” Sullivan of Arlington is sponsoring House Bill 1603, which would entitle “a person to vote absentee if the person is unable to go in person to the polls on the day of the election because he is primarily and personally responsible for the care of an ill or disabled individual who is confined at home.”

Del. Betsy Carr of Richmond is sponsoring HB 1935, to establish no-excuse, in-person absentee voting.

Sen. Janet Howell of Reston has filed Senate Bill 845, to expand absentee voting for caregivers, and SB 844, to provide for no-excuse, in-person absentee voting.

Del. Steve Heretick of Portsmouth has submitted a bill (HB 1904) to repeal the requirement that voters show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot.

Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, thanked the governor for pushing to end the voter identification requirement. But she asked for a greater reduction in absentee voting restrictions.

“If Virginia law limits no-excuse absentee voting to in-person only, qualified voters may be excluded from participating based upon a lack of readily accessible transportation, geography, income status, physical disabilities, and the constraints of modern-day individuals and families," she said in a letter to Gov. McAuliffe.

First lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam also spoke at the news conference. Mr. Northam, who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, stressed his desire for a bipartisan effort to make it easier to vote.

However, this cooperation seems unlikely as two Republican lawmakers are seeking to expand the photo identification requirement to Virginians who want to vote absentee by mail.

HB 1428 by Del. Buddy Fowler of Ashland and SB 872 by Sen. Amanda Chase of Midlothian would require “any voter submitting an application for an absentee ballot by mail or by electronic or telephonic transmission to a facsimile device to submit with his application a copy of one of the forms of identification acceptable under current law.”

“The bill also requires any voter to submit a copy of such identification with his voted absentee ballot. The bill exempts military and overseas voters and persons with a disability from these requirements,” according to the Legislative Information Service.
Member comments
Please, be polite. Avoid name-calling and profanity.
For credibility, sign your real name; stand behind your comments. Readers will give less credence to anonymous posts.
To comment, please log in or register.
BJ · January 11, 2017 at 8:40 pm
Our daughter is registered to vote in Fauquier County, yet goes to college in another Virginia county. In the last election (2016) which would have been her first opportunity as a registered voter to vote, she didn't because she didn't get her absentee ballot submitted in time to Fauquier County. When a person is a registered voter in Virginia, why isn't it possible to vote in the Virginia county you are in at the time of an election? Our daughter said many, many students at her college didn't vote because they either didn't register, or didn't know about the absentee ballot requirement. I believe that it is a disservice that our colleges are not taking the time to educate their students about voting. Voting is one of our most powerful rights under the law. Public colleges receive funding, as well as students receiving Federal Financial Aid, from the US Federal Government. Students need to be aware of who they vote for, or not vote for, and how the winners of those elections can have a lasting effect on their lives in so many ways, positive and negative.
Facebook comments
Enter your email address above to begin receiving
news updates from FauquierNow.com via email.
Monday, March 18
RE/MAX Regency, whose owners also sold Holiday Court building, will move to north edge of town
Monday, March 18
Main Street shop sells 1,700 volumes Saturday, almost a week before formal grand opening this Friday
Monday, March 18
Getting his chance as alternate, Evan Hunter earns a trip to the national competition in May
More Fauquier news
© Copyright 2011-2018

50 Culpeper Street, Suite 3
Warrenton, Virginia 20187
540.359.6574
Crime Log
Obituaries
Business
Add Your News
The Big Picture
Ellen’s Kitchen
and Garden

Features
Real Estate
For Sale
Employment
Automotive
Announcements
Legal Notices
Post an Ad
Advertise
Terms of Service