LYNCHBURG, VA—Parties in League of Women Voters of Virginia, et al. v. Virginia State Board of Elections have agreed to waive the witness requirement for absentee ballots in the November general election. The agreement was accepted by a federal judge today, essentially extending the previous ruling from the primary election to the general election.
“We saw how Virginians and their votes were protected when the state agreed to waive the witness requirement for the primary election, so we are relieved that the same protection will be in place for November,” said Deb Wake, president of the League of Women Voters of Virginia. “Amidst all the uncertainty that this pandemic brings, it is incumbent upon our election administrators to provide voters with safe access to the ballot and assurance that their voices will be heard.”
Over 100,000 ballots were cast by mail in the state’s primary election with the witness requirement waived, according to data from the Virginia Department of Elections. The surge in mailed ballots is expected to continue into the November election due to the continued presence of the COVID-19 virus.
“The League applauds today’s ruling as a victory for Virginia voters. This is the right move to protect voters while the pandemic rages on,” said Dr. Deborah Turner, president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “Now we look to the rest of the states to follow Virginia’s example and make accommodations for voters, so they do not have to choose between their health and their vote.”
The League was represented by the ACLU of Virginia.
“Voting is essential to our democracy and should be safe and easy to do, even in a pandemic. Getting rid of the witness requirement is a simple way to keep absentee voters safe without sacrificing the safety of our election. No one should have to risk their health to vote,” said Eden Heilman, legal director for the ACLU of Virginia.
The deadline for Virginians to register for the November 3 election is October 13. Voters may request an absentee ballot from now until October 23. Absentee voting begins September 18.
CONTACT: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]
A First Circuit Court judge upheld a lower court ruling to accept an agreement waiving the witness/notary requirements for mail-in ballots throughout the 2020 elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.