Absentee voting; no-excuse in-person available 21 days prior to election. (SB844)

Introduced By

Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) with support from co-patron Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Absentee voting; no-excuse in-person available 21 days prior to election. Allows for any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot in person in any election in which he is qualified to vote without providing a reason or making prior application for an absentee ballot. The bill makes absentee voting in person available beginning the twenty-first day prior to the election and ending at 5:00 p.m. on the Saturday immediately preceding the election. The bill retains the current provisions for voting an absentee ballot by mail, including the application requirement and the list of statutory reasons. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


11/23/2016Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/17 17101106D
11/23/2016Referred to Committee on Privileges and Elections
01/23/2017Impact statement from DPB (SB844)
01/31/2017Incorporates SB979 (Dance)
01/31/2017Incorporates SB1002 (Ebbin)
01/31/2017Committee substitute printed 17105066D-S1
01/31/2017Incorporates SB1295 (Vogel)
01/31/2017Failed to report (defeated) in Privileges and Elections (7-Y 7-N) (see vote tally)


Juniper Harrison writes:

One really good way to get rid of long lines, and make it easier for those who can't necessarily make it on a Tuesday.

ACLU-VA Voting Rights, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU strongly supports legislation that allows all Virginia voters to vote by absentee ballot either by mail or in-person without providing a reason. The ACLU of Virginia continues to be concerned about the effects and limitations of the current excuse-based system and encourages legislators to enact a truly equal “no-excuse” absentee voting law that is available in-person and by mail for all Virginia voters. If Virginia law limits no-excuse absentee voting to in-person only, qualified voters may be excluded from participating based upon a lack of readily accessible transportation, geography, income status, and the constraints of modern-day individuals and families. The “excuse-based” absentee voting law also continues to present concerns that certain classes of voters are being elevated. The excused-based system also continues to threaten the privacy of voters who vote by absentee ballot. The law currently requires voters to disclose private and sensitive information in order to vote by absentee ballot. And, this information is being required by a law that provides no assurance that the information will be held confidential and secure, or that it will be available to defend against allegations of absentee ballot fraud, which is a class 4 felony for which there is no statute of limitations. We strongly advocate that all voters should be permitted to vote by absentee ballot.

JoAnne Norton writes:

This is a very necessary law. We must have early voting. It increases participation. Some people may not like it a law because it increases the number of votes. But anyone who really wants a full democracy will not stop this becoming law.

Eva King writes:

I strongly support this bill. As a democracy, it is vital to enable as many eligible voters as possible to participate in the democratic process, and remove barriers that prevent and discourage participation.