WASHINGTON – Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says that waiting two hours to vote is unacceptable and he’s willing to consider expanding early voting opportunities to prevent that from happening in the future.
More than 70 percent of registered Virginia voters cast ballots Nov. 6 and communities throughout the state reported long lines.
In Prince William County, where voters complained of a lack of machines, voters stayed in line until almost 11 p.m. waiting to vote.
“We’ve got to have expanded access to the ballot box. So we’re going to take a look at that and figure out ways to fix it,” McDonnell said Tuesday during WTOP’s Ask the Governor program.
Virginia voters are allowed to cast in-person, absentee ballots. But voters must provide a reason why they can’t go to the polls on Election Day. Republican lawmakers, who control the General Assembly, have spurned efforts to allow no- excuse, early voting.
Neighboring Maryland, however, allows early voting without requiring voters to state a reason.
“It’s not something that’s been received well by the Virginia General Assembly but its something we need to continue to look at,” McDonnell said of early voting.
“I’m open to considering that. My biggest concern would be the ballot security issues and to make sure that we don’t have that problem.”
McDonnell said splitting up some precincts and adding more voting machines is part of the solution.
Confusion over Virginia’s new voter ID requirements contributed to bottlenecks at polling places.
But the governor said few provisional ballots were cast by voters who lacked proper identification and that the law wasn’t the problem.
Still, early voting isn’t McDonnell’s first preference for addressing future Election Day long lines.
“There’s something exciting about Election Day itself,” said the governor, who waited for 1 1/2 hours to vote. “I got to make a lot of new friends.”