Early Voting and Cutting Down Long Election Lines

Amherst, VA - Should Virginia change the law and do early voting? That's the question being asked after many stood in long lines election day to vote.

The hope is early voting would make those lines much shorter, and at least one politician backs this idea.

As it stands now, Virginia does absentee voting, not early voting. And there's a big difference between the two. You can only cast an absentee ballot if you have a reason you can't get to the polls on election day; early Voting doesn't require that excuse.

Election boards continue counting provisional ballots from Tuesday. But, Election 2016 - and how to make it smoother - is on their minds. Early voting is one idea.

"The lines this year brought it back to our attention," said John Pickett, chair, electoral board, Amherst County.

At some precincts, people waited an hour or more to vote. Some want that fixed. Senator-Elect Tim Kaine's backing early voting as a line-chopping solution.

"I don't think anybody, Democratic or Republican or Independent, says that it's a good thing that people would have to stand in line for hours to vote. We ought to make it simpler and more straightforward," said Kaine at his first press conference Wednesday as U.S. senator-elect.

Right now, absentee voting is all there is. If a valid reason like a disability will keep you from the polls on election day, you cast an absentee ballot ahead of time. But, Early voting is different: it allows any registered voter to cast a ballot before election day. Nice idea, but it's costly.

"It's up to the General Assembly. If they would like to do it, I'm sure our precincts would be willing to do whatever it takes," said Pickett.

For Del. Scott Garrett, Virginia should take a look at early voting. But, in this economy, there are other fish to fry.

"Money is still very, very tight, and we are going to have, huge challenges moving forward," said Garrett.

Instead of early voting to cut down on lines, some say invest in more election booths. Senator Steven Newman says he is looking in to that.