Virginia voters casting absentee ballots in the June 23 primary will be allowed to do so without a witness signature.
U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon ruled on Tuesday that absentee voters in the primary—when Loudouners will help select a Republican nominee for U.S. Senate—are relieved for absentee voters to open, mark and refold their ballots in the presence of a witness. Moon has eliminated the requirement to protect against further spread of COVID-19 by promoting social distancing measures.
The ruling follows an April 17 lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters of Virginia against the Virginia State Board of Elections, urging the board to not enforce the witness requirement in the primary.
“We are pleased the court saw the pressing need for relief for Virginia voters,” stated Deb Wake, the league’s president. “Voters will be able to cast their ballots in safety without risking their health to locate a witness.”
According to an April 28 statement from Virginia Attorney General Herring’s office, other safeguards will ensure absentee ballot security in the absence of witnesses, such as requirements to provide identifying information and proof of eligibility and to prevent double-voting.
The Republican Party of Virginia opposed waving the witness requirement and argued its case—that forgoing the witness requirement would be “attacking what remains of our election integrity provisions,” according to an April 29 statement—before the court on Monday.