My name is Jessica Killeen and I’m the Voter Protection Director for this year’s Coordinated Campaign. After the past year, I think we can all agree the only constant is change. We’ve seen our world turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic and massive and necessary civil rights reforms. One of those critical changes was access to voting in the Commonwealth. Thanks to the hard work of Virginia Democrats like the Governor, members of the General Assembly, and voters like you, it has never been easier to cast a ballot in Virginia.
After Virginia Democrats took control of the General Assembly in January 2020, they introduced numerous pieces of legislation focused on making voting more accessible and equitable. The first bill that was introduced in the House was HB1, patroned by Leader Herring, which allowed for 45 days of no-excuse early voting. Other legislation included extending the deadline for returning absentee ballots, repealing the photo ID requirement, and establishing Election Day as a state holiday. These laws went into effect on July 1, 2020.
In the midst of the pandemic, Virginia Democrats prioritized voting rights. The Washington Post opined that Virginia demonstrated how to run an election during a pandemic. They were right. Virginia prioritized the health and safety of voters while ensuring access to the ballot by removing the witness signature requirement on vote by mail ballots during the 2020 General and 2021 Primary elections, providing pre-paid postage on vote by mail return envelopes, and implementing the cure process, which allowed voters to fix errors in their vote by mail ballots.
Virginia Democrats didn’t stop there. During the 2021 session (and subsequent 2021 special session), they codified many of the changes from the 2020 special session and further expanded access to the ballot by authorizing Sunday voting, through a bill carried by Delegate Bagby.
Our Chairwoman, Susan Swecker, listened to localities when they expressed concerns of the costs of adding extra workdays to the calendar that local governments hadn’t budgeted for and was able to get $3 million allocated in the state budget to cover those costs.
This past Friday, Virginians were able to start voting under these new laws. It has been so exciting to see thousands of Virginians cast their ballots all over the Commonwealth. Of course, Virginia Democrats kicked it off in style — holding rallies all over the Commonwealth, from Roanoke to Fairfax to Norfolk!
We know that it is critical to vote (and volunteer!) in this election if we hope to maintain the advancements we have made with voting rights and make sure that in the next General Assembly session, we can do even more to expand access to the ballot.
We’ve been hard at work putting our money where our mouth is by making voting easy and convenient. If you want to request a vote by mail ballot click here. If you want to learn more about early voting, important election deadlines, or if you have any other questions about voting, visit vademocrats.org/vote. Finally, if you want to join our team to help protect the vote all over Virginia, please visit our website.
So — get out there and cast your vote (and make sure to bring three friends with you!). Virginia Democrats — thank you for all that you do — and will continue to do. See you at the polls!
We’re thrilled to be joined by DNC CHair Jaime Harrison at tonight’s Blue Commonwealth Gala!
Since we’ll be virtual this year, you can donate ANY amount to join us for the gala and support the robust programs that the DPVA has to elect Democrats up and down the ballot this November. Chip in any amount to virtually join your fellow Virginia Democrats on September 25th in the fight to keep our majority in the House and elect our statewide ticket in 2021.