Paying the price for no-excuse early voting

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — One goal many Virginia Democrats hope to achieve in 2020 is to shore up the ability to vote early. Measures that would do away with the required excuses to vote absentee during the 45-day window would have to pass in order to make it happen.

Chesterfield County’s General Registrar Constance Hargrove said there would also be a laundry list of items needed to make it happen.

“More electronic poll books if we were going to use those, additional staffing, more ballots and probably satellite locations,” she told 8News.

A bill filed in November says ballots should be available to vote absentee no later than 45 days prior to any election or as soon as possible in a special election. Hargrove explained that the cost of getting early voting done would be steep.

RELATED: Northam proposes measures to make voting easier in Virginia

“So, for a full 45-day window it could cost, with a satellite location, over $123,000 just for early voting,” Hargrove said. “That’s not including Election Day.”

Hargrove told 8News she’s been given no indication that the state might pay for implementation costs.

“With any mandate, we need money to back it up,” she said.

For a new General Assembly session that’s just over 24 hours old, there’s still plenty of time for the 45-day window to be amended or for other iterations of an early voting bill to be introduced.

8News reached out to the Virginia Department of Elections to see if state funds have or will be allocated to help support expanded early voting.

The department said they don’t have “additional information to provide concerning funding recommendations for legislative proposals to the General Assembly,” in an email to 8News.

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