GA: No breaks for 65-plus voters

Published 11:27 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A bill that would allow seniors age 65 and over to vote absentee without another excuse apparently died in a House subcommittee on Tuesday.

The bill, SB139, was introduced by Newport News Sen. John Miller, a Democrat. The bill had previously passed the Senate by a vote of 34-6.

It suffered an ignominious fate in the House of Delegates, however. Suffolk Delegate S. Chris Jones, a Republican, made a motion in the elections subcommittee to table the bill, and the committee agreed by a voice vote.

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“I don’t think there should be any by-right exemption just because of an age,” Jones said. “We have 17 exemptions now, and I think that’s sufficient.”

Registered voters currently must qualify to vote absentee under one of 17 provisions, which include work, vacation, disability and religious obligations.

“If someone has a handicap or temporary issue with mobility, they can be accommodated under current law,” Jones said. “A wonderful part of our process is going to the polls on Election Day.”

Jones noted that current law allows election officials to carry a paper ballot outside the polling place to a person waiting in a vehicle if the voter is 65 or older, or is physically disabled, and is within 150 feet of the entrance. The election official then must carry the paper ballot immediately inside and put the ballot in the ballot container.

“We have accommodated and provided provisions to accommodate those who have mobility issues,” Jones said.