RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginians who believe they may not be safe with having a witness present while submitting an absentee ballot for the June primary will not be compelled to, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Norman K. Moon approved Herring’s order to allow voters not to have a witness sign the absentee ballot before returning it for the primary on June 23. Virginia law requires any voter sending an absentee ballot through the mail to have a witness present when opening the envelope and have them sign it before mailing it back.

Herring said the order helps promote public health and participation in elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This agreement is a win for Virginia voters and a win for democracy. No Virginian should ever have to put their own health and safety at risk to exercise their right to vote,” Herring said in a statement. “Now, susceptible Virginians will not have to jeopardize their well-being and violate social distancing measures to cast their ballot by mail.”

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