The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, comprised of nine Democrats and one lone Republican, voted in favor this week of a measure that would end the witness signature requirement on absentee ballots.
The board is now asking Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for permission to ignore the requirement, according to Inside NOVA.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay sent that letter to Northam.
The requirement, which legally binds absentee voters to have a witness review the signature on their absentee ballot, was waived in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Democrat-led effort to eliminate the requirement in the state’s 2021 elections uses the same reasoning.
“McKay said that waiving the witness signature requirement – as was done during the 2020 election – is necessary due to the continued threat of COVID-19,” Inside NOVA reported. “He said several Fairfax residents had shared concerns with him about obtaining witness signatures – arguing they could be exposed to COVID-19 in the process.”
Calling it a “blow to election integrity,” Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, the lone Republican on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said the measure will make the 2021 election less secure.
“Witness signatures are important as they provide another line of defense against voter fraud,” he said. “They’ve been deemed important enough by the General Assembly that they were reestablished outside the state of emergency.”
Despite the push to eliminate the requirement in Fairfax County, The Virginia Department of Elections sent out a reminder this week that witness signatures will be required in the 2021 elections, which feature a gubernatorial race between Democrat and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin.
The department of elections said that if it receives an absentee ballot without a witness signature, it will notify the voter within three days that his or her ballot is incomplete.
Voters will be allowed to modify their ballots to include the witness signature until three days after the election, which occurs on November 2. That means that voters will have until November 5 to fix any witness signature issues they might have.
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