New delegate proposes a ‘vote by mail’ program for Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Lawmakers are getting ready to return to Richmond. They have spent the last few weeks filing bills for the upcoming General Assembly session.

Voters brought big changes at the polls last November — a Democratic wave in the House of Delegates and a tied race in Newport News.

So it’s no surprise lawmakers are focusing in on how we vote.

They have already introduced bills that would allow anyone to vote absentee, give new citizens more time to register to vote and add to the list of accepted forms of photo ID.

Del.-elect Debra Rodman (D-Henrico) just filed her first bill. She wants to clear the way for a whole new way to vote.

Her HB 230, which she is co-chief sponsoring with Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), would ask the Department of Elections to develop a pilot program for conducting elections by mail.

“My hope with a vote by mail program is that it will increase voter turnout, it’ll make voting more accessible, it empowers a locality,” said Rodman.

Rodman said localities would have the option to opt-in to the pilot program.

People registered to vote in participating areas would get a ballot sent straight to their house. They would fill it out and return it three ways — by dropping the ballot off at the office of the general registrar, depositing it at a drop-off location or sending it by mail.

She said, while it would be a new concept for Virginia, it wouldn’t be unique to the Commonwealth.

“There are other states that do vote by mail programs — Oregon, West Virginia, California,” she said.

Rodman said she hasn’t heard of any voting fraud in places that vote by mail. She said similar programs in place have also seen success.

“When you don’t live in the United States and you vote as someone living in another country, it’s all by mail,” she said. “So we know it’s a proven method.”

Her bill is only asking for a pilot program, but if it is implemented and successful, it could make going to the polls on Election Day a thing of the past for Virginia voters.

The General Assembly session begins Jan. 10.

To see a full list of all the bills lawmakers have introduced so far, click HERE.

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