Voting in a Pandemic: Should Virginia Move to Mail-In Ballots?

Apr 8, 2020

Should election officials in Virginia move to a system of mail-in ballots? The pandemic is raising new questions about how ballots are cast.

Next month, voters across Virginia will be casting ballots in municipal elections. And then there’s the June primaries. Both of those elections are happening during the governor’s stay-at-home order. And that’s why many people are calling for Virginia to move to a system of mail-in ballots.

Claire Gastanaga at the ACLU warns that might end up disenfranchising people. 

“Mail in ballots are disproportionately rejected from people of color, impoverished people and younger people," Gastanaga says. "And those are also the same people whose housing insecurity might lead them to move and might not be in the place where their ballot is sent and then if it gets rejected then they get removed from the rolls.”

Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy is a Democrat from Woodbridge. She says what Virginia needs is some kind of hybrid system. 

“So when I say 100% vote by mail I mean having every person having a ballot sent to them to be able to vote by mail but if they so choose," she explains. "They can drop it in the mail or they can drop it off at a polling location.”

If any change is going to happen this year, it’s going to be this week. Governor Ralph Northam has until Saturday to suggest changes in the form of amendments to legislation.

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