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Gov. Northam signs three bills to expand voting access in Virginia

Gov. Ralph Northam signs several new bills into law
Gov. Ralph Northam signs several new bills into law

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia’s General Assembly has passed several bills this session related to voting rights, and Gov. Ralph Northam recently signed three of them into law.

The three voting-related bills Northam signed on Friday are:

  • House Bill 1968, which allows localities to provide early-voting on Sundays;
  • Senate Bill 1097, which waives the requirement for witness signatures on absentee ballots in public health emergencies;
  • Senate Bill 1239, which allows registrars to work with third-party companies to ensure absentee ballots are printed on time.

Roanoke County Registrar Anna Cloeter said the laws and other bills in progress reflect the embrace of absentee and early voting after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cloeter said more than half of Roanoke County voters cast their ballots early or by mail during the 2020 election. She expects the trend to continue during 2021′s elections.

“It’s hard to tell when people are really going to feel comfortable going out and voting on Election Day,” Cloeter said. “So many people seem to enjoy the convenience of having any time during the month and a half before the day to vote by mail, in the car, or in person.”