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Virginia Dems press Northam to waive absentee ballot witness signature requirements ahead of governor’s race

Democrats in Virginia are using the COVID-19 pandemic to press Gov. Ralph Northam to waive the witness signature requirement for mail-in absentee ballots ahead of the gubernatorial election.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted 9-1, with the only Republican voting against, to send a letter to Northam asking him to drop the witness signature requirement like was done during the 2020 election, InsideNoVa.com reported.

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Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay, who proposed the letter, reportedly said during Thursday’s meeting that some Fairfax residents had expressed fears that they could potentially catch COVID-19 if required to obtain a witness signature to vote.

“During the 2020 election cycle, Virginia made historic strides to expand voting access while protecting the health and safety of our residents as well as the integrity of our electoral process,” McKay said in a statement Tuesday. “This progress should be extended to the signature requirement. No one should have their ballot rejected because they were unwilling to risk their health and safety. In Fairfax we want to break down barriers to voting not create new ones.”

Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, the Republican who voted against the proposal, said it would be a “blow to election integrity,” InsideNoVa.com reported.

While Fairfax County has yet to lift its state of emergency order, the state of Virginia’s ended in June and witness signatures were again required to vote by mail.

Herrity said it would be “nonsensical” to waive the requirement now after early voting for the Nov. 2 election started nearly three weeks ago, InsideNoVa.com reported.

“Witness signatures are important as they provide another line of defense against voter fraud,” he said. “They’ve been deemed important enough by the General Assembly that they were reestablished outside the state of emergency.”

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Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic governor of Virginia, and Republican Glenn Youngkin are in a tight race to be the next governor of Virginia. The RealClearPolitics average has McAuliffe leading Youngkin by 4.3 percentage points.

Northam, a Democrat, is unable to seek reelection due to term limits.

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