Some Republican elections officials expressed concern Tuesday over a practice both major parties are using to streamline the process of signing up absentee voters, saying it encourages voter fraud. Earlier this year, members of the state Board of Elections said that voters may sign absentee-ballot request forms electronically instead of printing the forms, signing them with a pen and e-mailing back a scan or mailing the forms through the post office. The change allows voters to skip the step of printing the forms. That guidance was offered during a contentious primary this summer, when House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) set up a secure Web site to make it easier for voters to request absentee ballots electronically.
But the practice has raised a red flag now that Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax) is using a similar site to sign up voters as he goes door to door seeking support for his state Senate bid in a district that includes Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties. Surovell said he has helped hundreds of voters apply for absentee ballots because they are pregnant, caring for sick loved ones or face some other circumstance that could keep them from getting to the polls.
… A lawyer for state Democrats called criticism at Tuesday’s meeting a partisan move intended to restrict ballot access and disenfranchise voters.
“These Republicans want one set of rules when Speaker Howell tries to mobilize his supporters and now are demanding an entirely different set of voting rules apply when Democrats do the same,” Georgina Cannan said. The situation upends the typical positions of Democrats and Republicans on measures to make voting easier.