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Bill Ditching Signature Requirement for Absentee Ballots Passes State Senate

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Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ditch the signature requirement for absentee ballots.

Last year, lawmakers took action to get rid of the signature requirement for absentee ballots in the November election; an effort to make sure people could still vote safely in the pandemic. Now they're considering a bill that would ditch the signature requirement entirely.

Republican Senator Mark Obenshain of Rockingham voted against the bill.

"What evidence is there that a single vote has actually been discouraged or repressed or that this has served as a barrier to anyone in Virginia or anywhere else that has a signature requirement to vote," asked Obenshain.

Senator Jeremy McPike is a Democrat from Prince William County who says he has heard from voters who say they’ve been disenfranchised because of the signature requirement.

"Hearing from constituents that later on received a notice that their ballot didn't count because of the signature issue and the disenfranchising of a vote," he said. "And one of those calls was from an 85-year-old veteran who had served his country."

The bill to ditch the signature requirement for absentee ballots passed the Senate on a party-line vote.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.