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Opposition To Early Voting In Virginia Goes Back Centuries

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Those who can't turn up to the polls on Election Day in Virginia can't vote early. They can, however, can cast an in-person absentee ballot.
Fairfax County: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fairfaxcounty/8009958096/
Those who can't turn up to the polls on Election Day in Virginia can't vote early. They can, however, can cast an in-person absentee ballot.

In-person absentee balloting has closed in Virginia, and a record number of voters may have taken advantage of the opportunity to cast a ballot early.

The system is not the same as early voting in other states, like Maryland. To vote early in Virginia, a reason is needed — for example, residents would be working on Election Day or on vacation.

Efforts to create early voting in Virginia are supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans, a phenomenon that dates back almost two centuries.

"The old Jacksonian Democrats were in favor of access to voting, because they wanted new immigrants to vote for the Democratic Party and for Jackson," says Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Jackson and his allies wanted to expand voting to white males who did not own property. The Whigs, their opponents, did not.

"The Whig party, which is essentially the precursor for the Republican Party, was not as open because they thought the new voters would vote for their opponents," says Kondik.

Even today, Kondik says, that dynamic remains largely unchanged, as Democrats fight to expand access to the ballot box and Republicans create restrictions to prevent voter fraud.


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