Voting in a Pandemic: Drop Box Funding Passes In Virginia House and Senate

Aug 28, 2020

Lawmakers in Richmond are considering a plan to spend $2 million to help voters cast ballots during the pandemic. But, critics say they are opening the door to vote harvesting and election fraud.

Election fraud is so rare that examples of it are almost comical. Senator Mamie Locke is a Democrat from Hampton, and she points to a Heritage Foundation study that found only 200 convictions for fraudulent use of absentee ballots since 2007. 

“Three of those cases were in Virginia. A woman voted for her deceased mother. A man voted for his deceased wife, and the mayor of Appalachia and co-conspirators tried to steal his reelection by buying votes with cigarettes and pork rinds and stealing ballots from the mail," says Locke. "Those were the three cases.”

Republican Senator Jill Vogel of Fauquier County says she worries about the part of the bill that helps local registrars pay for setting up drop boxes for absentee ballots. Republicans fear drop boxes would allow advocacy groups to harvest votes and stack the deck to steal an election. 

“If you consider what we’re doing by saying that anybody can take any ballots and go stick them anywhere in a ballot box that has yet to be determined," she says. "When have we in the Commonwealth of Virginia ever sanctioned something like that with something as sacred as the ballot?"

The bill passed the Senate on a party line vote Friday. A similar measure also passed in the House.

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