State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: long lines at polling places

Opinion: Virginia’s (Almost) No-Excuse Absentee Voter Law: A Baby Step in the Right Direction

By: Tyler Wolf

Election season may not be upon us quite yet, but that doesn’t stop some from prematurely speculating that Virginians may find shorter lines at the polling precincts in November of 2020. This prediction seems counter intuitive given the political turmoil and controversy that has galvanized voters in recent years, but it can be explained by the passage of SB-1026 in February of 2019. This bill, now set to take effect in November of 2020, creates an exception to Virginia’s excuse requirements for absentee ballot voting. Democratic State Senator Lionel Spruill, the sponsor of SB-1026, postulates that shorter lines and increased voter access are possible results when the law takes effect. Despite these predictions, the actual impact of this law is questionable, as it does little to curb the effects of excuse-required absentee voting laws in Virginia. As enacted, the law simply carves out a narrow exception to an arbitrary practice that violates ideals of personal privacy and widespread access to voting.

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Can State Laws Fill the Gap Left by Shelby County v. Holder?

By: Trevor Bernardo

Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to invalidate the coverage formula of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, many wondered what impact the decision would have on minority voting access. The Brennan Center has found that formerly covered jurisdictions, like Texas and North Carolina, have passed restrictive voting laws (think voter ID) and purged voters from voter rolls at higher rates than non-covered jurisdictions. Continue reading

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