Why We Need “No-Excuse” Absentee Voting in Virginia

Election Day is arguably one of the most important days of the year in Virginia. It’s the day that decides the course of our nation, our state, and our localities for years to come. It’s critical that everyone has the opportunity and the time to vote in the election. But why is it only one day? Why can’t we make it more than one day?

We have such a narrow window of time to vote every Election Day––polls are open from 6 am to 7 pm. That makes it difficult for a lot of people to participate in elections. Imagine if you were a single parent and you have to take care of your kids, get them to school, go to work, pick the kids up from school, and get them home. You wouldn’t have a moment to spare to cast your ballot. 

Why Is It So Hard for People to Vote on Election Day?

The truth is that a lot of people are shut out from voting on Election Day because of schedule conflicts, travel, and disabilities. Also, sometimes there are really long lines at polling stations that deter people from voting. Right now, Virginia allows people to vote absentee provided they have one of the excuses from a list of 20. You can apply to vote absentee by mail or show up at your local registrar’s office 45 days ahead of Election Day.

Voting Blue Wave Sticker by Everytown for Gun Safety for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Last year, the General Assembly approved a measure that allowed for “no-excuse” absentee voting to occur 7 days before Election Day, meaning that anyone in Virginia could vote without having to provide one of the excuses from the list of 20 excuses. Now that we won BIG in the 2019 election and installed the most progressive majority EVER in Virginia’s legislature, one of the first bills to drop was one that expanded early “no-excuse” absentee voting to 45 days before Election Day. 

“No-Excuse” Absentee Voting Makes Our Democracy Stronger

YES! We need this in Virginia, especially for the 2020 election! And everyone should be able to participate without facing any obstacles, schedule conflicts, or long lines. The simpler we make it for people to participate in our democracy, the stronger it becomes.
The 2020 General Assembly session has a few democracy reforms that we’re keeping our eyes on at Progress Virginia. Stay up to date with what’s going on in Richmond by signing up to be a citiizen co-sponsor of our Virginia For All campaign.