Delegate Lopez’s Bill to Encourage Greater Voter Participation by Allowing No Excuse, In Person Absentee Voting is Killed in Subcommittee
(Richmond, VA) – Delegate Lopez’s legislation to encourage increased voter participation by allowing no excuse, in person absentee voting was tabled in a House subcommittee by voice vote today. The legislation would have allowed Virginians to vote by absentee ballot in person without an excuse. Currently, voters must provide a reason for not being available to vote on Election Day. The bill would not have changed the rules for those individuals submitting absentee ballots by mail.
“In today’s economy many citizens of the Commonwealth, especially in Northern Virginia, are working two jobs and commuting over two hours each day just to make ends meet. The reality is that getting to the polling place on a workday is a luxury that many people who want to vote cannot afford,” said Lopez. “While we already have in person absentee voting in Virginia, allowing people to vote without an excuse would make the process more efficient. It would also help Virginians who are unable to make it to the polls during the week. This would be a win-win for the Commonwealth and the citizens of Virginia.”
Lopez’s bill met opposition because the estimated costs were $80,000 to update the voter registration system and $10,000 to update the form and education materials. The subcommittee was also concerned about the additional burden that would be created by having more voters voting absentee in person. Virginia currently has 17 County voter registrars that are only part-time employees.
“This is really an issue of priorities,” said Lopez. “Voting is fundamental. If we truly value our democracy, we should create an infrastructure that makes it easier for all Virginians to have their voices heard.”
Lopez is currently a Co-Patron of HB850, introduced by Delegate O’Quinn (R-5th), which will make all general registrars in Virginia full-time. This bill passed out of the House Privileges and Elections Committee uncontested and has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
###Contact: Jason Stanford804.698.1049DelALopez@house.virginia.gov