Youngkin Now Backs Voting Methods His Own Party Sought to Kill Repeatedly

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is shown an early voting ballot scanning machine by Loudoun County election officers, as he tours a Loudoun County elections facility, in Leesburg, Va., Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

By Carolyn Fiddler

July 14, 2023

Virginia’s governor is partnering with the Virginia Republican Party to encourage GOP voters to sign up for the state’s permanent absentee list or to cast their ballots during the early voting window. Mere months ago, Virginia Republicans tried to eliminate these voting methods.

This week, Gov Glenn Youngkin announced the rollout of a new online portal aimed at promoting early and absentee voting among Republicans in this fall’s General Assembly elections.

The website – SecureYourVoteVirginia.com – is listed as paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia, representing either breathtaking hypocrisy or a dramatic change in attitude towards the state’s permanent early absentee voting list and early voting. Mere months ago, state House and Senate Republicans worked to either roll back or completely eliminate these voting methods.

Republicans in the General Assembly introduced myriad bills in the most recent session aimed at undermining the progress Democrats have made in recent years to make voting easier and more accessible for more Virginians. 

After winning majorities in both the state House and state Senate in 2019, Democrats overhauled Virginia’s formerly restrictive voting laws in 2020 by eliminating the state’s photo identification requirement and passing a variety of measures designed to make voting simpler and more convenient. Those changes–combined with safety measures instituted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in major shifts in Virginians’ voting patterns, with a significant and increasing portion of ballots now cast early.

GOP lawmakers – many of whom are running for reelection this fall – proposed legislation in the subsequent years to reinstate obstacles to absentee voting and reduce the early voting window from the current 45 days to just seven or 14. In his promotional video announcing the online portal, Youngkin specifically urges Republicans to cast ballots during the existing window. 

Youngkin also urges GOP voters to sign up for the state’s permanent absentee list, a program introduced and enacted by Democrats when they controlled the state House, Senate, and governorship in 2021. Under this program, any Virginia voter can apply to automatically receive absentee ballots by mail for every future election in which they’re eligible to vote.

The lawmakers behind 2020’s major voting reforms were quick to call out what they see as Youngkin’s duplicity. 

“It’s blatant hypocrisy,” said House Democratic Leader Don Scott in response to the governor’s rollout of the online portal. “This is a party that is on the record against early voting. They are doing this whole push to pull the wool over our constituent’s eyes and hide from the fact that they’ve worked to make it harder for Virginians to vote at every turn. They’ve undermined our democratic systems for years and if allowed the Majority, they will vote to restrict voting access.”

Del. Cia Price, a chief co-sponsor of 2020’s Voting Rights Act of Virginia, added, “If they are serious about this initiative, the GOP should apologize for their previous attacks to invalidate voting systems. Until then, this is nothing more than political games from people only focused on using any means available to grab power from people with whom they disagree or devalue.”

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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