House subcommittee blocks election reforms
The Republican controlled House Elections Subcommittee defeated bills that would have allowed Virginia seniors to vote by no-excuse absentee ballot and prevented election officials from rejecting an absentee ballot due to minor technical errors.
The votes blocked Sen. John Miller (D-York County) and Sen. Jeffrey McWaters’ (R- Virginia Beach City) bipartisan bill, SB 724, that would have allowed Virginia voters over the age of 65 to vote by no-excuse absentee ballot. The bill passed the Senate 28-9.
“Virginia’s seniors deserve the respect and dignity to participate in our democracy without having to stand on their feet for hours on Election Day. Sen. Miller and McWaters’ common sense bill would have reduced wait times at the polls and ensured that seniors do not have to re-live the long lines they faced on November 6th,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax). “The Republican message to Virginia’s seniors: Get used to it!”
The Republican committee also stymied Senator Adam Ebbin’s (D- Arlington) bill, SB 968, that would have prevented election officials from rejecting an absentee ballot due a missing middle name or initial. The bill passed the Senate 40-0.
“House Republicans have made it clear that they are not interested in working to improve access to the ballot box for all qualified Virginia voters. A voter should not have their ballot tossed out because they forgot to initial an envelope. That is simply not right and the people of Virginia deserve better,” said Vice Democratic Caucus Chair Rosalyn Dance (D-Petersburg). “We need to encourage greater participation in our democracy, not look for ways to prevent qualified citizens from having their vote counted.”