Virginia Bill Requiring Absentee Ballots to be Recorded in Precincts Where Voters Live Moves Forward | Michael Pope/WVTF
As more and more voters move toward absentee voting, important data about the geography of elections is not being collected. Looking over a list of precincts, Republican state Senator David Sutterlein of Roanoke can make determinations about which neighborhoods are giving him strong support and which neighborhoods he might want to pay a little bit more attention to. “If something is happening in one part of the county, and we’re wondering why our votes are falling off, you go there and you try to find out, ‘What are you not being heard on,'” he explained. But the movement toward absentee voting is undercutting the ability of elected officials and journalists to examine the geography of elections. When you cast an absentee ballot, the data is usually not recorded in the precinct where you live. It’s recorded in an at-large precinct, lumping your vote in with all the other absentee votes in the county or the city. That’s why Sutterlein introduced a bill requiring all those absentee votes are recorded in the precincts where the voters live.