The State Board of Elections made it easier on Wednesday for overseas voters, including military voters, to register to vote.
The board voted to allow overseas voters, which could also include embassy employees and contractors working in Afghanistan, to fax a voter application to a Virginia registrar.
“These people don’t have mail boxes on every corner,” said Charles E. Judd, chairman of the State Board of Elections. The proposed rules change would take effect Sept. 1, if approved by the U.S. Justice Department.
Lawrence C. Haake III, Chesterfield County registrar and president of the Virginia Association of Registrars, objected, saying he did not think the proposed regulation complied with state law because it hadn’t been authorized by the General Assembly. He also worried that it might be unconstitutional because it treats overseas voters differently. In-state applicants can’t apply by fax.
While he said the goal is laudable, he suggested that the board should get the General Assembly to change the law, so it would take effect in time for next year’s elections.
Joshua Lief, an assistant attorney general who is counsel to the board, said there are exceptions that make the proposed regulation lawful. He also said it was constitutional. “There is a rational reason to treat overseas voters differently,” he said.