Court OKs Partial Settlement in Virginia Voter Witness Case

Voting ballot by mail: Absentee voting by mail with candidates and measures
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A partial court settlement approved Tuesday exempts voters in Virginia's June primary from a requirement that anyone submitting an absentee ballot must have the ballot signed by a witness.

Currently, any voter in Virginia submitting an absentee ballot by mail must open the envelope containing the ballot in front of another person, fill it out and then have the other person sign the outside of the ballot envelope before it is mailed back.

Under the partial settlement approved by a federal court Tuesday, voters who do not think they can safely find a witness amid the coronavirus pandemic will not be forced to comply with the requirement for the June 23 primary, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a news release.

In addition, the Commissioner of Elections must inform voters about the change and provide updated guidance to local election officials on counting all absentee ballots in the June primary that are otherwise properly cast but missing a witness signature, the news release said.

The ACLU said the settlement came in response to a lawsuit it brought against the Virginia State Board of Elections. The case was heard in U.S. District Court in Lynchburg.

The case is still pending regarding any other elections in 2020 that may be affected by the pandemic, including the Nov. 3 election, the ACLU said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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