Absentee Voting Starts Today in Virginia
Voting in Election 2016 is underway in Virginia. Absentee voting began this morning. As Michael Pope tells us, the last few election cycles have seen a dramatic rise in absentee balloting in Virginia.
Back in 2000, about 150,000 voters in Virginia cast absentee ballots. By 2008, it was half a million. Arlington registrar Linda Lindberg says that’s a trend driven by early voting in other states.
“Although we don’t really have true early voting in Virginia, we do have in-person absentee. And it’s usually pretty easy for voters to come up with a reason. All you have to do is be out of your city or county on election day."
Every year, Democrats introduce legislation in the General Assembly to create early voting in Virginia. And every year, Republicans oppose the idea. Geoff Skelley at the University of Virginia Center for Politics says the two parties view early voting differently.
“It’s been a partisan issue because Republicans think that early voting, for whatever reason, they think it helps Democrats, which I think is debatable."
Debatable because those absentee voters already know how they’re going to cast their votes. Skelley says these are not swing voters who are part of a get-out-the-vote operation. So allowing them to vote early — without using one of 19 different excuses provided by the Department of Elections — would just provide more convenience.