Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Elections
State Board of Elections
Absentee Voting [1 VAC 20 ‑ 70]
Action Material omissions from absentee ballots.
Stage Final
Comment Period Ends 10/12/2011


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9/15/11  8:26 pm
Commenter: Big Brother

CommentID: 18414

9/29/11  9:49 am
Commenter: Alex Ables, General Registrar, County of Fauquier

Complete Omission of Date from Envelope B

Item B of the proposed new regulation pertaining to Envelope B does not address the complete omission of the Date by the voter from the Statement of Voter. However, Item C of the proposed regulation does address an incomplete Date provided by the voter.

The Statement of Vote proscribed by the Code of Virginia §24.2-706(2), and appearing on Envelope B, specifically provides for the Signature of Voter, Date and Signature of Witness.
CommentID: 19091

9/29/11  1:59 pm
Commenter: Deputy Registrar

Material Omissons from Absentee Ballots

In item C #6, I think omitting the year in the date should be considered MATERIAL omisson.

In item C #6, I think a voter should use their legal name, not a derivitive of their name.  Therefore,  I think a voter providing a derivitive of their name should be considered a MATERIAL omisson.

CommentID: 19096

9/29/11  1:59 pm
Commenter: Deputy Registrar

Material Omissons from Absentee Ballots

In item C #6, I think omitting the year in the date should be considered MATERIAL omisson.

In item C #6, I think a voter should use their legal name, not a derivitive of their name.  Therefore,  I think a voter providing a derivitive of their name should be considered a MATERIAL omisson.

CommentID: 19097

9/30/11  10:09 am
Commenter: Renee Andrews, Electoral Board, Falls Church

Material Omissions

Our goal is to positively identify the voter.

If the voter writes "Bob" instead of "Robert" and all other information matches the AB application and and registration record, I believe this voter matches up with that record.

If the envelope contains this year's ballot and the outer envelope is postmarked this year, I do not believe that omission of the year on the date of the voter's signature is material.

CommentID: 19119

10/3/11  2:49 pm
Commenter: Dr. Keith Damon, Elections Committee, Fairfax County Republican Committee

In Support of the Regulation

I am the co-chair of the Elections Committee for the Fairfax County Republican Committee.  As such, I have been an authorized observer for the Republican Party at the Fairfax County Central Absentee Precinct for every election since 2008.  I have noted many instances during the processing of the AB votes where the Election Officials were faced with having to determine the validity of a vote because of missing, incomplete or confusing information on the B envelope containing the ballot.  In lieu of having specific instructions, arbitrary decisions had to be made.  These decisions were often based upon "We think this was the intent of the voter" rather than "This is the law as interpreted by the SBE".  This proposed regulation removes the uncertainty for the Election Officials by clearly defining the material and non-material omissions allowed on the B envelope while remaining faithful to the underlying Code of Virginia.

Subdivision 2 of Section 24.2-706 of the Code of Virginia provides a Statement of the Voter which is printed, verbatim, on the flap side of the B Envelope.  Sufficient information must be provided by the voter in this signed and witnessed Statement to enable the Election Officials at the CAP to ascertain that the person submitting the ballot is the same person that requested the AB vote.  Specifically, this can only be done if the voter is required to provide his name, address, signature and a witness signature.  However, to ensure that all valid absentee ballots are cast, I believe this regulation effectively defines the non-material omissions that are acceptable while still providing the necessary identification information for the Election Officials.




CommentID: 19180

10/4/11  1:56 pm
Commenter: W. S. Lee, Fairfax County Election Officer

Material Omissions on Envelope B
Delete B.2. Since B.1 pertains to the requirement to include the full name, having B.2 requiring the first name is superfluous.
Delete B.3. Since B.1 pertains to the requirement to include the full name, having B.3 requiring the last name is superfluous.
Change C.2 to be “The voter has used his middle initial instead of his full middle name AND/OR the voter has used his first initial instead of his full first name;”. For example, the former president George W. Bush, the FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and the guitarist B.B. King.
Change C.3 to be “The voter used a derivative of his legal name as a first name AND/OR a middle name (e.g., “Bob” instead of “Robert”);” For example, Abe Lincoln for former president Abraham Lincoln and Norm Schwarzkopf for retired general Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf.
Add after C.3: “The voter omitted the first or last part of a two-part (hyphenated or unhyphenated or linked with ‘de’) surname;” For example, Jacqueline Kennedy or Jacqueline Onassis for former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Add after C.3: “The voter omitted his name (generational) suffix;” For example, James Earl Carter for former president James Earl Carter, Jr..
Change C.4 to be “The voter did not provide his residential street identifier (Street, Drive, etc.) AND/OR the voter did not provide his apartment/unit identifier (Apt. 1, etc.);”.
Add before C.6: “The signature of the voter was omitted and a ‘Request for Assistance’ was attached indicating that the voter is unable to sign; or”
I would like to emphasize that the statement standards for UOCAVA voters (absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters) and the statement standards for non-UOCAVA, state prescribed voters (all others who are eligible/entitled voters) should be the same. (On the UOCAVA statement, there are fewer fields to complete.) Nevertheless, if the state’s Envelope B requirement remains codified then the preceding suggested changes to the proposed text on material omissions would make the code less ambiguous.
By reducing the ambiguities, the spirit of the law (eligible/entitled voters can vote) and the letter of the law (fulfilling ballot submission requirements/instructions to vote) should converge. Also note that even with (only) these changes, there are more possibilities for further reducing ambiguities, such as for compound first names (e.g., Maria Isabel) or for numerical dates (e.g., 10/11 – was the year omitted or was this October 2011 and the day was omitted?).
CommentID: 19215

10/5/11  1:24 pm
Commenter: Margaret Luca, Former Chairman, Fairfax County Electoral Board

Material Omissions Absentee Ballots

Uniformity and equality are essential in voting. These criteria are missing in this discussion of what is  material or not material in counting absentee ballots. When voter applies for an absentee ballot, it is confirmed that the requestor is a registered voter eligible to receive an absentee ballot. Labels with needed information are affixed to the mailing envelope and return envelope. When the voted ballot is returned, this information is checked and voting credit is given. This is true for a stateside voter and a UOCAVA or overseas voter. How then is the "B" envelope with the signature of the voter and witness of a UOCAVA voter accepted and the "B" envelop of a non-UOCAVA voter with the same information not accepted? These voters are held to a different standard.  Why is information that the registrar's office puts on the envelop not enough information to count the ballot of the non-UOCAVA voter? This is not uniform, fair or equal. The only material inofrmation of the "B" envelope is the voter's name, signature and the witness's signature. The address, etc., is not material since it is on the envelope already.

I do hope we will finally make the process of voting absentee uniform and equal for all.

CommentID: 19391

10/7/11  4:20 pm
Commenter: Selma Miller

Absentee voting

Protect voter's rights. I am concerned that there seems to be a movement to discard or disallow legitimate votes.

CommentID: 19694

10/7/11  4:25 pm
Commenter: Rebecca Tushnet

In support of Margaret Luca's comment

Margaret Luca's comment makes sense to me: the standards should be the same for anyone qualified to submit an absentee vote.  Any change that increases the chance that a vote will be disqualified because of a failure to repeat available information or write one's name in an unusual way (since many people are used to using variations of their names) seems likely to deprive people of their right to vote for no good reason.


CommentID: 19695

10/7/11  4:27 pm
Commenter: Carmela Jones

Material Omissions Absentee Ballots

Dear Virginia Board of Elections,

As a life-long Virginian, I am concerned with getting rid of absentee ballots over handwriting.  We as a state have gone this long with handwriting as is on ballots, please keep in mind the voters, such as the military, who rely on absentee ballots to make their voice be heard in elections in the Commonwealth.  I urge you to not change the rules.  Thank you.


Carmela Jones

CommentID: 19696

10/7/11  4:27 pm
Commenter: Joe Schneider

Absentee ballot

I'm concerned about the news that Virginia may be considering the possibility of excluding absentee ballots because of poor handwritten signatures.  I have always had lousy penmanship, but it satisfies my credit card companies, my bank, the IRS, my local election board, and a host of federal agencies with which I'm forced to interact with on a regular basis (e.g., TSA employees).  My scribble is mine, has been with me for nearly 60 years, and probably will accompany me to the grave.  It shouldn't be grounds for disqualifying for to vote in the Commonwealth. 

CommentID: 19697

10/7/11  4:28 pm
Commenter: D Mitchell

I hope we're not going backwards

I hope we're not reverting to the old days of poll taxes, and voting tests, etc.  Let the candidates win or lose on their own merit.  I hate it when people change the rules in the middle of the game or when they think they're going to fail. 

CommentID: 19698

10/7/11  4:29 pm
Commenter: Patricia Wilson

Proposed changes to voting regulations

This should not be a Repub or Dem issue.  it's an American issue.  To have states, especially the one I live in and pay taxes to, attempt to limit citizens' right to vote in the manner they need or choose, should be criminal.  These changes must be stopped now.  This is our country/Commonwealth, and should not be ruled by some creeps sitting in a room trying to figure out how to stop certain groups of people from voting.  It's funny, with computers having become our way of conversing/communicating in all aspects of our lives, that it's not expected that penmanship will suffer greatly.  I can assure you my signature today is much sloppier than in the past, as is anything I may be forced to write.  Stop this now.

CommentID: 19699

10/7/11  4:29 pm
Commenter: William A. Garland

Restrictions On Absentee Ballots

What is the Legislature up to? I have spent most of my life in the service of the United States abroad, and have depended upon the availability and ease of use of absentee ballots to do my duty as a citizen to register my political opinions. My signature -- due in part to having had to sign many thousands of official documents over the years -- has become difficult to read. Do you mean to tell me that my furture ballots might be thrown out because my signature is difficult to read? What arrogant nonsense! This notion must be scrapped now. Leave the ballot alone, except to ease access and use so that more voters can vote, as the American Way demands. 

CommentID: 19700

10/7/11  4:31 pm
Commenter: Beverley Parker

Virginian-Pilot comment on signature absentee ballots

Please do not let signature problems cause votes not to be counted. There should be a printed name and signature on same form Please let every vote be counted.


Thank you

Beverley Parker

CommentID: 19701

10/7/11  4:31 pm
Commenter: James B. Thorsen

Do not tighten absentee voting laws that make it more restrictive to count a voters ballot.

CommentID: 19702

10/7/11  4:31 pm
Commenter: Lorraine Ortega

voting rights

For your attempts to strip away our voting rights, I will now put all my energy into registering new voters on college campuses in the Hampton Roads area. Thanks for the motivation!

CommentID: 19703

10/7/11  4:32 pm
Commenter: kael svoboda

Absentee ballots

Unfortunately I have to travel a fair bit and vote by absentee ballot regularly.

You should make it EASIER, not HARDER to vote by absentee ballot and count every vote you can. If you can piece together identity then count the vote! What's the big deal about leaving out a zip code? Or a first name? Who makes the decisions of what's valid and what's not? Dangerous and undemocratic.




CommentID: 19704

10/7/11  4:32 pm
Commenter: Bill Camp, Citizen

Let's use common sense here.

Recent investigations have found the cases of actual voter fraud were beyond negligable. They are NOT effecting elections, and these laws are frivolous attempts at suppressing the voice of the American people. A signature is a signature, and no one should be discounted in a democracy due to a sloppy signature.

CommentID: 19705

10/7/11  4:32 pm
Commenter: mary campbell, voter

Voting Rights

We need more protections for voting rights, not fewer - Please do not disqualify sloppy writing!

CommentID: 19706

10/7/11  4:33 pm
Commenter: Sandi Wurtz

Don't shut us out

I am alarmed, but not surprised to hear our current governor is trying to limit the ability of citizens of Virginia to have full access to the ballot box by constricting our use of absentee ballots through sham procedures on certifying their authenticity. I would think such a blatant political move would cause shame, but it probably won't. I hope the good sense of those who will have to approve this move prevail, it will be disallowed  and we continue to have a system that encourages voting. 

CommentID: 19707

10/7/11  4:33 pm
Commenter: John M. Hatfield

Fair evaluation of Absentee Ballots

Why can't the State request a photo copy of their voter registration card be submitted along with their absentee ballot?  The absentee ballot instructions should state, BOLDLY, that all information must match.

CommentID: 19708

10/7/11  4:34 pm
Commenter: Raulin Angulo

My family left Communist Cuba 50 years ago. Seeking freedom and the right to vote. It is ashame to try to restrict the right to vote.

CommentID: 19709

10/7/11  4:34 pm
Commenter: Sandra M. Corder

Remnants of the Past

The actions being taken is not grounded in the foundation of this nation.  Denying a citizen's right to vote due to race and/or economics borders on the Nuremburg Laws.  This action/stance is democracy denied not democracy supported.

CommentID: 19710

10/7/11  4:35 pm
Commenter: Harold R Newman

Comment for myself & my 84 yr. old mother

We think any of these new laws requiring more voter ID crap are absurd. More voters mean a more honest & worthwhile election. There are so few cases of voter fraud in this country, that the reasons for these new requirements are obvious. Bush & his people did a thorough study of voter fraud during his time in office and found only about 80 prosecutable cases out of 300,000,000. These laws only make it more difficult for the elderly, minorities, students & others in like categories to vote. Republicans must be desperate!

CommentID: 19711

10/7/11  4:36 pm
Commenter: Jonathan Sheiner

Absentee ballot rules

Voting should be made as easy as possible once the identity of the voter is verified.  Voters without state IDs should be offeredd easy ways to get identiy cards.

Once someone is verified as a voter as long as the affadavit for absentee balloting can be read and the voter identified and the the choices on the ballot are identifiable, the vote should count.  

The Commonwealth was a jurisdiction noted for restricting the ballot of American citizens.  The Commonwealth must make it as easy to vote as possible.

CommentID: 19712

10/7/11  4:37 pm
Commenter: Clifford Garstang, Chief Election Officer, CAP, Augusta Cty.

Variations in Envelopes

While I think the worries over "sloppy handwriting" are misplaced, my concern is that our standards appear to be different for those submitting their ballots received from the State and those voting from overseas. Not all Envelope B forms require the address, signature, and date. For those ballots, there are far fewer erros that might be made. We should be working to simplify Envelope B and make it easier to submit the ballot, not more difficult.

CommentID: 19713

10/7/11  4:37 pm
Commenter: Barbara Schelstrate, voter

Governor's attempt to make absentee voting more difficult

If you can show (driver's license or voting card) you are a qualified voter in Virginia, the messiness of your signature should not matter.  Please make absentee voting easier, not harder. 

CommentID: 19714

10/7/11  4:38 pm
Commenter: Judith MacPherson

Absentee Ballot Changes

I am distressed that our state is considering making it more difficult to vote by absentee ballot and considering disqualifying these ballots based on poor penmanship or the absence of a date.  Ms. Luca's comment is particularly persuasive and I urge you to consider it carefully.   We should be making it easier for our citizens to vote, not harder.   This rule change has the potential to disenfranchise even those who are fighting and dying for their country overseas.

CommentID: 19715

10/7/11  4:38 pm
Commenter: Stuart Holme

Please do not play politics with voting rights!

I find it extremely disturbing, while also saddeningly not surprising, that the Republican-controlled Virginia Board of Elections is trying to make it easier to disqualify absentee ballots.  Please try to stand by your supposed ideals of freedom for ALL and refrain from messing with a system that works perfectly just as it is now- or if not perfectly, at least well enough.  Try to win the next election on issues and the strengths of your candidates rather resorting to this shameful sort of chicanery.

CommentID: 19716

10/7/11  4:40 pm
Commenter: George Omwango

State Board of Elections - voting changes

Government, whether state, local or federal has the obligation to make any and all services that are accessible to its citizens as simple and as transparent as possible.  I'm proud to say that i have absolutely no party affiliation but the action to make voting more difficult seems to go against democracy.  Every citizen above 18yrs. old that has the right to vote has to be able to do so without having to go through a maze of complex hoops.  Placing any barriers to hamper that process appears to be a tactic to undermine the elderly, the poor, the young and generally all those unable or unwilling to speak up.  In my opinion if there are to be any changes to the process it would be to generally enable more people to vote not less.  There is absolutely no evidence warranting the need to add change the system. I urge you to please stop wasting tax payers money and work on more important and urgent matters.

CommentID: 19718

10/7/11  4:40 pm
Commenter: Anne Smyers

restricting voting rights

Hearing about this sort of attempt to limit absentee voting, added to the dysfunctionality and stonewalling behavior in Congress, is disheartening to the point where I am beginning to feel that I'm no longer proud to be an American. I strenuously object to this latest gimmick to limit voters' rights. Have the courage to let the candidates win or lose on their own merits, not by rigging the system with maneuvers such as disallowing absentee ballots for sloppy signatures.



CommentID: 19719

10/7/11  4:40 pm
Commenter: Jerry T. Jennings

Restricting citizens right to vote

There is absolutely no honest reason to reduce the number of citizens voting in elections. The claims of protecting elections from voter fraud is sheer nonsense. Fraud by citizens attempting to vote is extremely rare and punished severely in the rare cases in which occurs. The real voter fraud in this country is perpetuated by election officials who devise arcane voting rules making it difficult or impossible for some persons to cast a vote. These disenfranchised persons are almost always citizens not likely to vote for candidates of the party stiffling voting and registration. This is entirely contrary to our Constitution and the requirements of an effective democracy. It must be stopped NOW. We are all equal citizens and have a constitutional right to vote in our elections. So stop this nonsense NOW.

CommentID: 19720

10/7/11  4:40 pm
Commenter: S. Akrie

Absentee voting

I am a officer of election serving in New Kent County.  My precinct is CAP. 

My question is:  Why disqualify ballots over sloppy penmanship?  Why determine the way my signature should look to you on my ballot.  Crossing "T"s and dotting "I"s, come on, focus on something else more important than this.

The focus should be on getting Americans back to work.

CommentID: 19721

10/7/11  4:41 pm
Commenter: Jean Lowe, retired

In support of improving access to the vote

Obviously steps to prevent fraud are important, but it sounds as if much of the debate is about trivial process issues.  If the registrar sends an absentee ballot, it seems that all the voter should have to do is to sign and send the ballot back in the enclosed envelope.  As a 70 year old person who has always voted in elections, I find some of these procedures limiting and confusing.  Where do I get a witness?  Are the instructions in BIG PRINT for those of us who don't see as well as we once did.  Are they simple to conform to?  Let's make sure that everyone registered to vote has a chance to cast a ballot with the minimum of red tape consistent with assuring that no one votes twice and that no one who has not registered can vote.  More than this is harassment to older citizens and probably to many others.

The resgistrar in Fairfax makes a good point.  I support her view.

CommentID: 19722

10/7/11  4:41 pm
Commenter: Debra Jacobson, Private Citizen

Regulations on Absentee Ballots

I strongly oppose regulations that would impose onerous restrictions on absentee ballots, such as requirements that would disqualify ballots for reasons as arbitrary as a sloppy signature.  



Debra Jacobson

1703 Fairview Avenue

McLean, VA  22101

CommentID: 19723

10/7/11  4:41 pm

This is just about the sleaziest move that those scum could devise. They should be JAILED !

CommentID: 19724

10/7/11  4:41 pm
Commenter: Claire ODea

Voter Rights

I would like to register my disapproval.  People have a right to vote in this country.  We shouldn't be looking for way to disallow legitimate votes.  I don't care how messy someone's signature is...they are allowed to vote.  That is one of the cornerstones of our country and I am very disappointed in the currrent administration's attempt to limit this right.

CommentID: 19725

10/7/11  4:41 pm
Commenter: Andrew Medley

Towards simple, hassle-free absentee voting for all

I generall support Margaret Luca's comment.  

As a serial absentee voter in the state of Viriginia, I'd like to know that my ballot was going to be counted (there is already so much more that could go wrong with an absentee ballot getting lost in the mail or not arriving on time) and I would like to keep absentee voting as hassle free as possible---it's already quite a hassle just to get an absentee ballot sent to you in time to get it back for the election... especially when you are residing overseas... and I always feel a little nervous using one of the standard Federal Election ballots, though I did have to for the 2004 presidential elections because I didn't receive my ballot in time.  The registrar of the vote will verify that the absentee voter is registered to vote.  All the witness signatures and dates are virtually meaningless---this regulation seems to be a ploy to make it easier to reject votes.  What really matters is that you know (1) who sent the ballot, which should be evident based on name and address and/or from the return address envelope that the registrar sends out and (2) that the voter's intentions are clearly marked on the ballot.  Everything this regulation is nitpicking at seems to be immaterial.  Is this regulation really addressing true concerns among the voting public and the registrars?  If the public is concerned that it is too easy to get an absentee ballot in Virginia, perhaps they should give it a try next election; it takes a lot of effort to request and return an absentee ballot and that effort should be fully respected!


CommentID: 19726

10/7/11  4:41 pm
Commenter: Peggy Suntum

One person, one vote

Please, don't even consider this proposal.  Why would anyone try to take away the voting rights of another?  We do not have a record of voting fraud in this state, so do not hide behind a lie and give this proposal any credence.  

CommentID: 19727

10/7/11  4:43 pm
Commenter: Alicia Korten

Fair democracy


It's unfortunate when political leaders try to erode the fabric or our democracy for short term gains.  We stand for more than this. 

CommentID: 19728

10/7/11  4:44 pm
Commenter: June Marquis

Absentee Ballots

All absentee ballots where it is obvious who the voter is choosing should be accepted. No absentee ballots should be thrown out because of incorrect spelling. It is important to count the voice of as many people as possible, not limit those that are counted..

CommentID: 19729

10/7/11  4:44 pm
Commenter: Kevin English, citizen


All Commonwealth agencies and bodies need to propmote more participation in the electoral process not less. These measures are designed to keep people out. Voting should be easy and open to all of our people. During these tough economic time people have time to be their own government watchdog and will not stand for repression of any kind.

CommentID: 19730

10/7/11  4:44 pm
Commenter: J.M. Scott

Any legible hand-writing should be counted.

CommentID: 19731

10/7/11  4:46 pm
Commenter: Virginia Diezel

absenteed ballots

Absentee voting is part of our system.  If you truly are concerned about voter participation, regardless of whether or not the citizens vote for YOUR chosen candidate, you will leave the regulations alone.  When I go to vote, there are supposed to be impartial observers present.  There always have been.  To begin to selectively eliminate absentees, due to poor handwriting, for example,  is blatantly wrong.  People must have the option  to vote in this manner.  If you change the rules, you are changing outcomes.  Keep your hands off absentee ballots.

CommentID: 19732

10/7/11  4:46 pm
Commenter: Anne Little

make voting easier - not harder

Making absentee voting more difficult disenfranchises many.  We need to make the process easier, not harder.  Limiting the vote is a move to limit democracy.

CommentID: 19733

10/7/11  4:47 pm
Commenter: Sharon Canner

Absentee Ballots

This is a comment on Governor McDonnell’s proposed restrictions on absentee ballots. I support maintaining current law. Proposed restrictions would fall mostly on young, minority and low-income voters and those with disabilities with the potential to disenfranchise these groups.

CommentID: 19734

10/7/11  4:47 pm
Commenter: Joseph Harmon

Make It Easy

The question we should be asking ourselves is: Are we doing everything we can to make it easy to vote Absentee, not making it harder?  We should also be allowing no-fault absentee voting.  Having to make-up excuses as to why someone is not available on election day to vote at the polls is so last century.  Also, voting by mail should be an option open to everyone.  Nonetheless, removing flexible, common sense decision-making discretion by election officials is a step in the wrong direction.

CommentID: 19735