Virginia could use ballot drop-off boxes for November's election

Posted at 2:03 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 17:22:17-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Virginia could use absentee ballot drop-off boxes for November's election.

Gov. Northam proposed the idea during his budget presentation to lawmakers on Tuesday. The boxes would be located at precincts on Election Day, but local governments could decide to add additional boxes before Election Day on public property throughout their cities or counties.

The Department of Elections will have to come up with security procedures for the boxes, according to Northam's proposal. The ballots would be collected every day by election officers from each party.

"The package that I'm sending you reaffirms that we need to make it easier to vote not harder," Northam told the lawmakers.

State Republicans said they want more information about the proposal. "Ballot security is a very, very critical issue. It is the heart of our democracy, so when I hear about drop-offs that has some concern," said Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach).

Virginia Beach's Registrar said they are considering adding drop-off boxes in the city, but said details are still be worked out.

Del. Miyares said he has more questions than answers. "People have to have faith in the results period. You have to have that security, so until I see how is the ballot security going to be worked and how we're going to protect the ballots - how are they going to be processed? I just have a lot of questions," he said.

Registrars across Virginia are reporting an increase in absentee ballot applications. Norfolk's Registrar told News 3 requests are up about five times compared with 2016. Part of that is because a group called the Center for Voter Information recently mailed absentee applications to people across Virginia.

The Postal Service is also facing increased controversy and scrutiny over delivery delays and now suspended organizational changes.

With Election Day under 80 days away, Northam is urging lawmakers to move quickly. "I ask you to move quickly to pass this budget because the stakes are high," he said.