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Virginians Will Be Able to Register and Vote on the Same Day Next Year


Same-day voter registration is coming to Virginia. But, not until next year.

Polls are open across Virginia for early voting, but that's only for people who have registered to vote. For now, new voters who fill out a registration to vote will have to wait five days before they’re able to cast a ballot, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. Next year, though, voters will be able to register and vote on the same day.

That's because of a bill introduced by Delegate Hala Ayala, who is currently running for lieutenant governor.

"Voter registration cuts off disproportionately younger voters and people of color because these voters move more frequently," says Clara Belle Wheeler, a former member of the State Board of Elections who opposed the new law.

"If they show up in a precinct way over here maybe because that's where they work," Belle Wheeler says. "But they live way over here there's no way of knowing at the voting precinct if they're in the right place or not."

By the time registrars are ready to roll out same-day voter registration next year, they'll have the technology to make sure they know where voters should be voting — and where else they've already cast a ballot.

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.