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 2019 Virginia legislative session begins on Jan. 9.
Once again, a batch of proposed bills have been submitted which, if enacted, would authorize no-excuse absentee voting in Virginia.
No-excuse absentee voting bills
Some of these no-excuse absentee voting bills have been continued from the 2018 legislative session, e.g., SB 136 submitted by state Sen. Janet Howell (who represents portions of Arlington). Others are new, e.g., HB 1641 submitted by state Del. Charniele Herring..
Virginia should enact a law authorizing no-excuse absentee voting
Like other voting rights issues, Arlington voters only can 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 before Election Day. 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 most important reason why the current system should be changed is that experience in many other states has demonstrated that no-excuse absentee voting enables more legally 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 the Fairfax Area has prepared a helpful checklist of reasons to support no-excuse absentee voting. Those reasons are:
- All voters should have equal access to the ballot
- No voter should have to provide personal unrelated information to cast a ballot
- Voters have found their eligibility to vote before Election Day very confusing
- Voting absentee in-person is as secure as voting on 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
- Extra personnel are needed to explain the form and check it for completion before a voter can proceed to checking in
- Eliminating the use of the application form would speed the voting process considerably
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
Twenty eight states and the District of Columbia permit any qualified voter to vote absentee without offering an excuse. Those states include so-called “red” states such as South Dakota and Wyoming as well as so-called “blue” states like California and Vermont. Therefore, absentee voting should be a subject on which Virginia Republicans and Virginia Democrats also ought to be able to agree.
No-excuse absentee voting will enable more eligible Virginia voters to vote.
The current patchwork quilt of 16 authorized excuses should be replaced by: no excuses necessary.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
Spend the first Sunday of March tasting a great wine selection at Arrowine’s Super Sunday Tasting!
Workers lowered signage today (Friday) from the now-former Giant supermarket in the Lyon Village Shopping Center. Several passersby watched with interest as the team unscrewed the letters G-I-A-N-T from the…
New properties just listed in Arlington include a 3 BD/3 BA home with an expanded kitchen, fireplace and two lower levels.
March General Membership Meeting
NAACP Arlington Branch is celebrating Women’s History Month with a virtual public safety and Virginia legislative update. Our speakers are Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti and Delegate Adele McClure.
Virginia House of Delegates, 2nd District in Arlington
Early Years Preschool is a small non-profit preschool and parents day out program that has served local families since 1992. Early Years Preschool is located in the Cherrydale neighborhood at 3701 Lorcom Lane.
Early Years Preschool offers part-time programs for young children between 12 months – 5 years old. Early Years also offers a 6 week summer program! The school day is 9:30-2:30, with the option of morning extended day offered at 9am. Families have the flexibility of registering for 1-3 days/week in their parent’s day out program (12 months- 2 year olds) and 2-5 days/week for their preschool program (3-5 year olds).
Early Years’ teachers provide a nurturing environment that promotes the development of a child’s emotional, social, cognitive, and physical skills. Creative and stimulating theme-based activities allow each child to develop and learn at his or her own pace through exploration and play.
Learn more about Early Years Preschool by contacting the admissions team at [email protected] or by visiting their website at http://www.earlyyearspreschool.org
Dedicated to the notion that fans of the Smiths and Morrissey want to hear some of the greatest music ever written in a true live concert setting, Caligula Blushed delivers an authentic rendition of Smiths/Morrissey songs, with each performance based