ACLU to Gov. McAuliffe: Fully expand absentee voting
In a Tuesday letter to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, ACLU-VA Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga thanked him for seeking repeal of the state’s voter ID laws but said his proposals to expand the list of allowable excuses for absentee voting does not go far enough to increase access to the polls.
Specifically, the governor’s proposal would only implement no-excuse absentee voting for Virginians voting in-person and not by mail.
“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,” the letter states. “Additionally, there are voters whose work or childcare schedules simply cannot accommodate the registrar’s limited office hours so that they could cast in-person absentee ballots. We are also concerned that limiting no-excuse absentee voting to in person may disproportionately impact minority and rural communities and persons with disabilities.”
In addition, the governor has proposed expanding the list of permitted excuses/reasons that allow a voter to cast an absentee ballot by mail. The ACLU-VA advocates for no-excuse absentee ballot voting to be available for all voters.
“ACLU of Virginia believes that proposals to grant only certain voters the right to no-excuse absentee voting by mail elevate certain classes of voters over other qualified voters largely for partisan political reasons,” according to the letter.
The only solution, according to the ACLU-VA, is to allow no-excuse, in-person or by mail voting for every voter.
“No-excuse absentee voting allows all qualified voters to exercise their right to vote regardless of location or status and eliminates the need for voters to share personal and private information with general registrars,” Gastañaga’s letter states.