Senator advocates easier absentee ballot process
A state legislator wants to make it easier for Virginians who can’t go to the polls on Election Day to obtain an absentee ballot.
Sen. John C. Miller, D-Newport News, has proposed that voters be able to request and receive an absentee ballot by email. They still would have to return the completed ballot by regular mail or by hand.
Currently, only voters who are in the military or are overseas can use email to request and receive an absentee ballot from Virginia election officials.
During the General Assembly’s 2012 regular session, Miller sponsored a bill to allow any registered voter to use email to apply for an absentee ballot.
Under Senate Bill 188, if election officials approve the application, they could email the voter an absentee ballot. The voter then would print out the ballot, mark his or her choices, and submit it by regular mail.
SB 188 passed the Senate but failed in a House subcommittee. Miller says he'll push for it again next year.
“In Virginia, you cannot be emailed the ballot,” Miller noted. Instead, election officials must send absentee ballots by snail-mail. That’s expensive, wastes paper and requires a lot of employees, the senator said.
“It costs $1 for each absentee ballot sent out,” Miller said. “We could save half a million by using electronic applications.” (In the 2008 presidential election, about 507,000 Virginians voted absentee.)
Certain state officials aren’t the only people clamoring for the General Assembly to make it easier to vote absentee.
In February, members of the Student Government Association at Virginia Commonwealth University presented their legislative priorities to state lawmakers. Student leaders also were in favor of SB 188.
“This bill will provide Virginians with easier access to absentee ballots and therefore easier access to voting in all elections,” said Tiffini Smith, an SGA officer. “It would allow military families and college students to receive absentee ballots electronically, which is vital to getting a greater and better represented response in elections.”
Many states go much further than Virginia is contemplating in accommodating absentee voting. In Colorado, Mississippi and a dozen other states, voters can actually cast absentee ballots by email, according to the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s website.
In Mississippi, for example, voters can email their absentee ballot “as a signed, scanned attachment” to election officials.
Henrico County Recreation and Parks will present “Red, White, and Lights” at Meadow Farm Museum/Crump Park July 4.
Henrico County has hosted a Fourth of July celebration annually since 1981, but this year’s event will offer a later start time and expanded hours and be highlighted by new entertainment.
The free event will begin at 4:30 p.m. and will feature the Richmond Symphony, a laser-light show, patriotic performances, and family activities. > Read more.
The Tuckahoe Family YMCA and ReEstablish Richmond will host the third-annual Refugee Community Resource Fair Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to noon at the YMCA, 9211 Patterson Avenue in Henrico. The event is designed to provide refugees in the region information about jobs, local businesses, housing, health care, education and more.
As part of its strategic plan, the YMCA of Greater Richmond works to identify, address and eliminate economic, geographic and cultural barriers. > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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Jun. 16, 2016Click here to read the print edition.
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CalendarThe Henrico Community Band will perform at 7 p.m. at Deep Run Park. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and spend a casual evening in the park at the Nature… Full text