A week after Virginians waited in line for hours to vote for president, there’s a new push in the state to allow residents to vote early. Sen. Janet Howell, D-Reston, has tried repeatedly over the years to loosen the state’s early voting restrictions without success. But she said voter frustration with long lines may have given her new momentum. “A lot of voters are very angry because they had to wait in such long lines,” Howell said. “I’m hopeful that anger will help get it passed. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It should be about making it easy for people to vote.”
Howell’s legislation would allow any Virginian to vote ahead of Election Day. The state is now one of just 14 that don’t allow general early voting and the only jurisdiction in the D.C. area that doesn’t allow it.
Howell’s proposal regularly passed the state Senate only to be killed by a House committee run by Republicans. Last year, with Republicans controlling the Senate for the first time in more than a decade, Howell’s proposal didn’t pass out of that chamber.
Republicans are reluctant to expand absentee voting, let alone allow early voting for everyone, citing the potential for fraud. House Privileges and Elections Committee Chairman Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, suggested having more voting machines available would avoid long lines, but that could be costly for local governments.