Court decision waives witness signature requirement for absentee ballots


RICHMOND, Va. — Absentee voters in Virginia will not have to obtain a signature from a witness before submitting their ballot for the Nov. 3 election.

This allows Virginians to safely fill vote from home without having to possibly risk exposure to COVID-19.

“Voting is essential to our democracy and should be safe and easy to do, even in a pandemic,” said Eden Heilman, legal director for the ACLU of Virginia.

The League of Women Voters of Virginia and several voters sued the Virginia Department of Elections ahead of the June 23 election and successfully ensured that voters would be able to vote without a witness present. They filed a second motion to allow voters that same option in the upcoming election. The United States District Court approved their settlement today.

The court decision guarantees that any absentee ballot cast in the November Election without a witness signature will not be rejected on that basis. The decision also requires the Department of Elections to specifically inform voters that they do not need the signature if they are unable to safely have someone present.

“Getting rid of the witness requirement is a simple way to keep absentee voters safe without sacrificing the safety of our election,” Heilman said. “No one should have to risk their health to vote.”


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