In the November elections, we broke voting records in part because of temporary measures passed in response to the pandemic. Through the establishment of secure drop boxes and satellite locations, the provision of pre-paid postage to return absentee ballots, and the elimination of the witness signature requirement, we were free to choose the voting method that worked best for each of us and our unique circumstances. Now our legislators have the opportunity to make these changes permanent so that everyone in our community can quickly and easily make their voices heard in our elections. When voting is accessible to everyone, our democracy is stronger.
Virginia smashed early voting records in 2020
The Commonwealth enthusiastically leaned into these new voting laws. Over 2.8M of us voted early in 2020 compared to under 600k in 2016. For the first time ever, we could choose to vote absentee without giving an excuse. Can’t get off work? Check. Don’t have childcare to get to the polling place? No problem. Prefer to vote from the comfort of your own home and avoid crowds? That works. And it got better—the elimination of the witness signature requirement removed yet another barrier to voting, especially for those who are older, live alone, or have health concerns.
So many voting choices in Virginia
No-excuse absentee voting offered so many ways to cast a ballot beyond just voting in-person on Election Day. We could vote from home by mail using prepaid return postage, vote early in person at the local registrar’s office, request a ballot by mail and return it to a dropbox or satellite voting location, or use a dropbox at a local polling place on Election Day.
We moved from the embarrassing rank of the second hardest state to vote in (second only to Mississippi!) to the twelfth easiest! This is great news. Now we need to make sure these stellar voting laws remain the norm post-pandemic.
Call your legislators and ask them to support making the temporary voting rights permanent. It is our civic duty as citizens to vote, and it is our legislators’ duty to ensure voting is accessible to everyone regardless of work schedule, childcare, mobility issues, or safety concerns. The old system did not work for all of us, and we need to make sure we keep these improvements forever!