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This year's election could determine the fate of early voting in Virginia

In this photo taken Nov. 5, 2013, Steve Maskell of McLean, Va., right, votes in an election.
Jacquelyn Martin
In this photo taken Nov. 5, 2013, Steve Maskell of McLean, Va., right, votes in an election.

Among the potential fallout from this month’s election could be the fate of early voting in Virginia. Michael Pope explains why.

Virginia has 45 days of early voting, that's the longest in the country. Over the summer, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin launched an initiative to get his voters to the polls even though earlier this year Republican legislators voted to shorten the 45-day period.

"They voted against it because they don't believe in it. But they'll do it now because they think it'll help them win," says House Democratic Leader Don Scott. "And then when they get the power back you can't trust them because they're going to vote to kill it again."

Republican Delegate Amanda Batten of James City County is one of the Republicans who says 45 days is too much.

"45 days is a long time. In my ideal world, I would like it to start maybe in October, so October 1st", Batten says. "I just think psychologically it's difficult sometimes for people to wrap their heads around an election when they are technically voting in the summertime in September."

The next General Assembly is likely to reconsider the 45-day window of early voting, in addition to adding more Saturday voting and potentially even requiring election officials to schedule at least one Sunday voting each election cycle.

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.