Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
The 2018 Virginia legislative session again has featured a batch of proposed bills relating to voting rights.
Several of those bills relate to no-excuse absentee voting.
No-excuse absentee voting bills
HB 1072 was co-sponsored by Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope and 15 others. The bill would have erased the current extensive and complicated list limiting the reasons (excuses) entitling a registered voter to vote absentee. But, this bill was sidelined on January 30 by a 4 to 2 vote in a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee.
Virginia should enact a law authorizing no-excuse absentee voting
Like other voting rights issues, Arlington voters can only obtain the right to no-excuse absentee voting if that right is enacted at the state level because Virginia is a Dillon Rule state.
Virginia has developed a series of 16 narrow, but often confusing and overlapping, excuses that entitle registered voters to vote absentee. Unless your reason for wanting to vote absentee fits squarely within one or more of the 16 categories on the authorized list you can’t vote absentee.
Virginia’s current system should be changed. It should be replaced by a system that permits any registered voter to vote absentee without having to provide any excuse.
Reasons to support no-excuse absentee voting
The bedrock reason why the current system should be changed is that experience in other states has demonstrated that no-excuse absentee voting enables more registered voters to vote to choose their elected officials. The broader the base on which our political leadership rests, the more likely that decisions made by our leaders will be respected.
The League of Women Voters of Virginia recently has prepared a helpful checklist of reasons to support no-excuse absentee voting, including these:
- No voter should have to provide personal unrelated information to cast a ballot
- Extra personnel are needed to explain the current excuses
- Voters have found it very confusing to determine what the current excuses mean, and therefore their eligibility to vote before Election Day
- Local Election Offices have had success in reducing long lines on Election Day by encouraging absentee voting
- For voting absentee in-person, eliminating the cumbersome process of completing the absentee application would save time as well as the expense of printing the form
Opponents of a no-excuse absentee voting system have argued that it encourages too many more voters to vote too early, thereby foreclosing their opportunity to vote based on late-breaking developments in a political campaign. Weighing this risk against the depression of voter turnout under the current system, the benefits of providing more opportunities to vote outweigh the risks that some voters might regret that they voted too early.
Both Democrats and Republicans should support no-excuse absentee voting
No-excuse absentee voting has been enacted by a majority of U. S. states–both “red states” and “blue states.”
No-excuse absentee voting should be a subject on which Virginia Republicans and Virginia Democrats can agree. No-excuse absentee voting will enable more Virginians to vote.
The current patchwork quilt of 16 authorized excuses should be replaced by: no excuses necessary.
Everyone has flat screen TVs already so how about a more interesting Black Friday special? The ARLnow Press Club for free, to try out the daily Early Morning Notes email…
There’s not a whole lot going on in Arlington today, save for activity at local shopping centers, so we’re going to fast forward right to the top story countdown. Here…
Statues of Liberty gives thanks this holiday season and grateful for a few things this year.
It’s turkey time. Thanksgiving Eve is upon us and extra revelry can be expected at some local bars tonight, ahead of the holiday. Please be careful on the roads and…
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 76th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 25th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to huge 14 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garlands, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Art House 7 is a small art studio in Arlington – offering instruction in painting, ceramics, sewing and more. We are looking for kind, dedicated people who love both creating and teaching.
Ceramic Teachers are needed to teach wheel-throwing to adults and 6-12th graders and to teach hand building to elementary grades. Classes have 3-8 students.
Drawing teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. For kids, we offer cartooning, manga or traditional drawing. For adults, we only offer traditional drawing.
Painting teachers are needed to teach either kids or adults. We offer oil, acrylic or watercolor for adults or teens. All elementary classes use acrylic and tempera.
NCE’s Holiday Concert will bring the finest classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. The festivities begin with Leroy Anderson’s classic “Sleigh Ride” and “Chanukkah Festival”, music from the Nutcracker and by J.S. Bach.
Outstanding Young Artist