Bill Adding Additional Scrutiny for Precinct Decisions Advances

Jan 26, 2021

Lawmakers are considering several changes to how elections work in Virginia.

Any changes your local government wants to make as to where voting happens would require new scrutiny under a bill introduced by Democratic Senator Jennifer McClellan of Richmond. The change would have to be advertised in advance for public comment or reviewed by the Attorney General's office.

Katie Boyle with the Virginia Association of Counties says that's a burden for local governments.

"This bill imposes fairly heavy oversight, even to changes that are ministerial such as relocation of polling places," Boyle says.

Senator McClellan says moving precincts is not a ministerial change.

"Here in the city of Richmond, the registrar's office was moved from downtown on a bus line out to Labernum Avenue not on a bus line in an area that is tucked away where two highways intersect and nobody knew where it was and a lot of people didn't know that change had been made until they showed up at the registrar's office to vote early," McClellan explains.

Her bill has already passed the first hurdle; a party-line vote in the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee. It's now headed to the Senate Finance Committee, where senators will determine if Virginia can afford the cost of prosecuting new cases of voter intimidation.

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