Virginia Soldiers One Step Closer to Better Absentee Voting

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Contributed by the Senate Privileges & Elections Committee

Richmond, Virginia—On January 27, 2014 the Senate Privileges & Elections Committee voted unanimously pass SB 11 out of the Senate and over to the House of Delegates. SB 11 allows the State Board of Elections (SBE), in coordination with the Chief Information Officer (CIO), to develop secure electronic return of absentee ballots by our overseas, active-duty military men and women.

Puller is guiding the bill through the legislative process for the second year in a row. Last year the bill, SB 830, was sent to the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) Cybersecurity Subcommittee. “JCOTS worked tirelessly to strengthen and improve my bill,” Senator Puller stated. “And it paid off. It’s a better bill, using CAC cards, which military personnel carry and ensures the identity of voters and keeps the ballots secure in transmission.”

Senators Jeff McWaters (R-8) and Steve Martin (R-11) are co-patrons of SB 11. There are two companion House bills, HB 759, patroned by Del. Tom Rust (R-86), and HB 126, patroned by Del. John O’Bannon (R-73) and Del. Mark Keam (D-35). HB 759 is currently in the Elections subcommittee of the House Privileges & Elections committee, while HB 126 is in the House Science & Technology committee. Both bills are in threat of not being reported out of committee and to the House floor.

Senator Toddy Puller (D-36), the patron, stated “the time to pass this legislation is now. These men and women are putting their lives on the line for us, they are living on aircraft carriers, submarines and in makeshift bases in Afghanistan and they deserve to have their vote counted.”

“We have the capability, we are ready. We need to do this for the troops,” Stafford County Registrar, Greg S. Riddlemoser stated to the Elections Subcommittee on January 15.

The legislation is the top priority of the Joint Leadership Commission of Veteran Service Organizations and has the support of SBE and many county registrars. Members of the JLC, the Cybersecurity subcommittee of JCOTS, several county registrars and Mr. Bob Carey, formerly the Director of the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, have all given their full-throated support to the legislation.

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