by Shanna Reulbach, Special Contributor
The William & Mary Election Law Society hosted a symposium searching for solutions to the delays that occurred on Election Day 2012—those that President Obama directed national attention to during his acceptance speech that night. The symposium began with small-group sessions that brought scholars, elections officials, and students together to discuss the issues. I was part of the group focusing on election flexibility options, and had the honor of talking with Dr. John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center and two outstanding Virginia general registrars, Barbra Gunter and Donna Patterson.
The group focused first on two of the “hottest” ideas for voter flexibility: early voting and absentee voting. Currently, Virginia offers mail-in absentee ballots to voters who are able to select one of a number of excuses for not being present in their precinct on Election Day. Virginia’s system of in-person absentee voting, which other states may call early voting, also requires an excuse. Ms. Gunter and Ms. Patterson related that Virginia voters passing through their offices express support of having more options for early voting through either method. The registrars agreed that more options for early voting would reduce delays on Election Day because people would likely take advantage of those options, meaning less people coming to the polls on that Tuesday in November. Continue reading