Virginia election officials recommend 45 days of early voting

Virginia election officials recommend 45 days of early voting
In the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill allowing no-excuse absentee voting starting the week before the 2020 elections. (Source: NBC12)

The Virginia State Board of Elections is recommending that the state create a 45-day early voting window for the 2020 elections, a significant expansion of the seven-day window the General Assembly authorized earlier this year.

Virginia has gradually widened its election laws to give voters more leeway to cast absentee ballots before Election Day. However, voters have had to give an excuse for why they can’t make it to their polling place, such as travel, work, a disability or military duty.

In the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill allowing no-excuse absentee voting starting the week before the 2020 elections.

That bill instructed the Department of Elections to write a report on how the 7-day voting window would be implemented, including suggestions for additional legislation.

In the report presented to the State Board of Elections Monday, the department said the original plan could confuse voters by creating a “bifurcated” system” where some absentee voters would have to give an excuse and others wouldn’t, depending on when and how they vote. Dropping excuses altogether, the report says, could simplify the process.

The Virginia Mercury is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.