Virginia Legislature Passes Bill To Remove Witness Requirements for Mail-in Voting

UPDATE: On Wednesday, April 12, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed House Bill 1948 into law. It goes into effect on July 1, 2023.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Feb. 17, the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate passed H.B. 1948, a bill that would repeal the witness requirement for mail-in voting. A witness requirement means that another individual, not just the voter, must sign the mail-in ballot envelope. The bill passed the Senate 35 to 4 with bipartisan support; it unanimously passed the Republican-controlled House earlier this month.

Virginia is one of only a handful of states that permit any voter to vote by mail, but requires a witness signature to do so. H.B. 1948 would repeal the witness requirement, and instead replace it with the expectation that voters note their date of birth and last four digits of their Social Security number on their ballot return envelope. H.B. 1948 would also require a “unique identifier” be assigned to every voter that would be accepted in place of the Social Security number.

H.B. 1948 is one of the few voting related measures that made it through Virginia’s divided legislature this session, which ends on Saturday, Feb. 25. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) for his signature.

Read H.B. 1948 here.

Track the status of H.B. 1948 here.