It is now the “crossover” period, when the House and Senate vote on the other chamber’s bills and the work of Special Session is almost finalized. Unfortunately, the Senate voted down or significantly altered positive legislation passed by the House, such as paid quarantine leave and criminal justice reform measures. Some good news is that the House Appropriations Committee is close to reporting an updated biennial budget and that early voting has begun.
Early voting opened on Friday. You may vote early in person at the Prince William County Office of Elections in Manassas, the Haymarket Gainesville Library, or the Woodbridge DMV. These locations will all be open from 8:30am to 5pm Monday through Friday, and 8:30am until noon on Saturdays.
Starting October 19, five more voting centers will open at: Piney Branch Elementary School, Colgan High School, McCoart Administrative Building in Woodbridge, Ferlazzo Building in Woodbridge, and Dumfries Town Hall. At that time, all locations will operate with extended hours from 8:30am to 7pm Monday through Thursday, and 8:30am until 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
The last day to vote early in person is Saturday, October 31. You do not need to provide a reason or fill out an application to vote early. You will still need to bring the same valid photo identification as you would if voting on Election Day.
You can also apply for an absentee ballot. The standalone voter access budget that the General Assembly passed earlier this Special Session allows you to return your absentee ballot to an accessible drop-off location established by your registrar, in addition to the options of mailing in the ballot or submitting it at your local registrar’s office. If you do return your absentee ballot by mail, know that the voter access budget ensures prepaid postage. No excuse is needed to vote absentee and a witness signature is not required.
October 23 is the last day to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. A completed mail-in ballot must be postmarked by Election Day – November 3 – and received by the Prince William County Board of Elections by noon on November 6. The Virginia Board of Elections is strongly encouraging everyone not to wait until these deadlines due to the risk of mail delays.
No On 1
One question you will see on your ballot this year is a proposed constitutional amendment establishing a new redistricting commission. Though I hope to see fair, nonpartisan, and independent redistricting in Virginia, I have been opposed to this amendment since it was first brought before the General Assembly in 2019. In the details of its implementation, this commission would be neither nonpartisan nor independent from the legislature; half its members would be sitting legislators and the other half appointed by them. It allows ample room for partisan stalemates. Most importantly, the proposed commission includes no guarantee of a seat at the table for marginalized voices. Any proposal to remove institutionalized bias and racial gerrymandering from the redistricting process must ensure fair representation of communities of color. For these reasons, I will be voting no on Amendment 1.
The House Appropriations Committee has made substantial progress in rewriting the biennial budget to account for the pandemic’s impact on the economy. My top priorities for the updated budget remain funding criminal justice reform, health care, and education, which includes access to broadband and digital technology for Virginia’s students. The House budget will be reported very soon and I am optimistic that we will be able to fairly address each of these issues.
Thank you for your support. Please contact us with any questions or feedback.