Legislature Weighs Election Reforms

Jan 27, 2021

A new president is in office, but some voters still have doubts about the validity of the election.  Hoping to restore public confidence, two state senators are offering bills that would change the way we vote in Virginia.

Last year’s election involved an unusually large number of absentee ballots that were not scanned before election night, which was why districts where Trump had been leading suddenly swung into the Biden column. 

Senator Creigh Deeds, a Democrat from Bath County, has proposed changes to Virginia's election laws.
Credit Senate of Virginia

“I think 61% of the people who voted on Election Day voted for President Trump," says state Senator Creigh Deeds. "65% of the people who voted absentee voted for President-elect Biden. There’s a perception of wrongdoing, or a perception that something is fishy when you have these late-night swings of votes.”

So he’s introduced a bill to require all districts to scan absentee ballots before election night.  He also wants to make some COVID era changes permanent

“Like drop boxes and the ballot cure provisions that would allow a registrar to call an absentee voter when there’s a mistake or something about an address and allow that voter to cure the mistake.”

His colleague, Republican Mark Peake of Lynchburg, wants the state to verify social security numbers when people register to vote.

“It makes absolutely no sense why we would not have people, when they register to vote provide their social security numbers and then have the registrars check those social security numbers either through DMV or the social security administration. Without hardly any trouble they could do that.”

Virginia Senator Mark Peake thinks the state should check social security numbers before allowing voters to register.
Credit Senate of Virginia

But Deeds objects, arguing it would "add expense and burden to the voter and to the process, and it’s not necessary.”  

In past years the same measure was approved by predominantly Republican legislatures, only to be vetoed by Governors McAuliffe and Northam.