Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Here’s something about the June primary: Virginia waives signature for some absentee voters

Some Virginians submitting absentee ballots in the June primary will not be required to have a witness sign the envelope, the state’s attorney general announced Tuesday.

Officials will accept absentee ballots without a witness signature “for voters who believe they may not safely have a witness present while completing their ballot,” the Office of the Attorney General said in a statement, citing the order submitted to a federal court.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said the agreement would protect voting rights and public health amid the coronavirus pandemic by not forcing voters to break social distancing orders to seek out a witness.

State law mandates voters who send an absentee ballot through the mail open the envelope in front of another person and ask the witness to sign it before the ballot is returned. But the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg arguing the law could make those who live alone put themselves at risk in order to vote.

The agreement will only be in effect for the June 23 election, according to officials. The order is pending final approval in court.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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