WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Republican-led effort to drastically shorten Virginia’s early voting period was stopped in its tracks yesterday after a Democrat-controlled Senate committee voted to strike down the restrictive proposal.
Virginia currently has one of the most expansive periods of early voting in the country, as Virginians have 45 days to vote early. The Republican bill would have cut that timeframe down to just three weeks. The bill’s sponsor, Mark Peake (R), claimed the change was necessary to address the workload of election staff and local registrars.
Democrats and advocacy groups defended the state’s lengthy early voting policy, highlighting how it can be especially useful for those working 40 or more hours a week and pointing out that most early voting takes place during normal business hours.
The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted against the proposal in an 8-6 party-line vote. Other proposals by Peake to mandate photo ID and add further requirements for registering to vote were also voted down.