COVID-19 has forced all of us to do things in a new way. In response to these health concerns, today Governor Northam asked the General Assembly to “move the May General Election and all special elections scheduled for May 5, 2020 to the November 3, 2020 General Election date to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” In addition, the Governor is “exercising his statutory authority… to move the June primary elections from June 9, 2020 to June 23, 2020.”
Deb Wake, President of the League of Women Voters of Virginia, stated that the League supports these decisions: “Elections, a foundation of democratic government, must take place while ensuring voter safety. Consolidating and allowing time to plan for the safe conduct of elections will help ensure that voters can exercise their right to vote as safely as possible.”
The League further encourages the Governor, the Attorney General and the General Assembly to work to make vote by mail a priority and an option for voters as a precaution in the event that the pandemic persists in the lead up to the November 3, 2020 general election. The League of Women Voters has long advocated for vote by mail in order to improve voters’ access to the polls. Health concerns now add to these reasons for facilitating voting at home. Those at the highest risk of death from COVID-19 are also Virginia’s most faithful voters. Election Officers are also at risk.
“In order for the Commonwealth’s leaders and officers of elections to timely plan for and execute safe elections in November, we support appropriate measures permitting every registered voter to receive a ballot by mail (without submitting an application),” added Joan Porte, First V.P, League of Women Voters of Virginia.
We applaud Governor Northam for making the health of voters and election workers a priority while still recognizing the importance of exercising our right to vote.