Virginia’s early voting law, with one of the nation’s longest periods for voters to cast ballots, would be cut sharply under a bill that moved from a House of Delegates subcommittee Tuesday.
The bill would cut early voting from the 45 days before Election Day to 14 days.
(The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, led by Democrats, on Tuesday defeated two bills to curtail absentee voting, as well as bills to ban drop boxes and require photo ID at the polls.)
The move to 14 days would be an important savings for local governments, said Del. Phil Scott, R-Spotsylvania, who sponsored the measure.
Localities’ concerns are so widespread that three separate, similar bills were filed this year, he said.
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Democrats on the House Privileges and Elections subcommittee said the bills would reverse their efforts in 2020 and 2021, when they had majorities in both the House and state Senate, to make voting easier.
“If you want less voting, just say so,” said Del. Schuyler T. VanValkenburg, D-Henrico.
Del. Tara Durant, R-Fredericksburg, who filed a similar bill, said the aim was not to discourage voting, but to avoid the confusion that could result if ballots changed sometime during the 45-day period, if candidates dropped out, for instance.
The subcommittee’s Democrats pressed for data about how many people voted between 45 and 14 days before Election Day, but sponsors said they didn’t have any.
Although campaigners to restrict absentee or early voting have previously said the aim is to reduce voter fraud, the backers of the Virginia bills did not make that argument this year.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have said defending Virginia’s voting access laws is a top priority in the 2023 General Assembly session.
Democrats have a four-seat edge in the Senate while Republicans have a four-seat edge in the House.
Dave Ress (804) 649-6948
@DaveRess1 on Twitter