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Virginia Bill Would Add Absentee Exception For Seniors

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Virginia seniors may soon have the ability to cast their ballots well in advance of Election Day.
Alejandro Mejía Greene: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jubilo/386243713/
Virginia seniors may soon have the ability to cast their ballots well in advance of Election Day.

All Virginia voters who are age 65 and older would be able to cast absentee ballots without providing a reason to justify doing so under legislation that has cleared the state Senate.

Under current law, Virginians must provide a reason from an approved list in order to cast an absentee ballot. For example, that the voter will be away on business on Election Day.

The bill's sponsor, Newport News Democrat John Miller, told the Senate that voting should be more accessible, especially for seniors.

"I've talked to a number of registrars who say a senior citizen will come in and request an absentee ballot, but cannot find an excuse that fits their circumstances, and we're forcing those folks to lie," Miller says.

Virginia Beach's Republican senator Jeff McWaters agreed, adding that voting is especially difficult for those with disabilities, which was clear in the last election with its lengthy lines.

"And one of the particular issues with poll workers who had to go out to cars and buses to allow people who were not able to get out of their car or bus to go in and vote," McWaters says. "It slowed the lines down. And in many cases, there were not enough workers at the polls to even do it, and voters had to go home."

The bill passed the Senate on a lopsided 28 to 9 vote and now goes to the House.

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