Senate backs absentee voting for seniors

The state Senate approved a bill Monday allowing Virginians age 65 and older to vote by absentee ballot without having to provide an excuse.

Currently, Virginians are allowed to vote absentee only if they cannot get to the polls on Election Day for certain reasons, such as military service or jury duty. Last week, a Senate panel killed a bill that would have allowed any registered voter to vote absentee, but it approved a measure to allow seniors to do so.

On Monday, the Senate voted 28-9 for that bill, sponsored by Sen. John Miller (D-Newport News) and Sen. Jeffrey L. McWaters (R-Virginia Beach). All of those opposed were Republicans.

After battling over voter ID requirements in last year’s General Assembly session, legislators have filed dozens of bills this year related to voting procedures and rights. Republican-sponsored measures have generally been aimed at tightening voting procedures and Democratic-backed ones have been largely intent on liberalizing them.

Long lines at the polls last Election Day helped convince some Republicans that seniors, who might have trouble standing for hours, should be allowed to vote absentee.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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