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State Lawmakers Kick Precinct Data Legislation Down the Road

Voters may be about to get better data about elections. But, it won't be this year.

As election returns came rolling in back in November, the so-called red mirage or blue shift tripped up many people watching precinct returns.  


That's why Republican Senator David Suetterlein of Roanoke introduced a bill that would have required election officials record absentee ballots in the precincts where the voters live instead of an at-large precinct that was posted sometime later on. He framed the bill as a way to encourage faith in elections. 


"So then when it went over to the House of Delegates, it was defeated in a subcommittee chaired by one of these very same people tweeting about how awful it is that Republicans are trying to undermine faith in elections," Suetterlein says. "It's a little upsetting." 


Senator Creigh Deeds is a Democrat from Bath County who introduced a bill allowing for drop boxes for absentee ballots. He voted for Suetterlein's bill, and he says he wanted to see it put into place as soon as possible. 


"What the House did was, while they killed his bill, they put an enactment clause on my bill that says we want the State Board of Elections to put together a work group and take a look at this issue and report back to the General Assembly before next session," explains Deeds. 


So don't look for better precinct reporting this November. But lawmakers will probably have the ability to do something next year in time for the 2022 midterms.


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.