Long election lines forgotten in GA

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Despite calls from thousands of citizens who waited for hours in long lines to vote last November, members of the General Assembly killed five bills that would have allowed early voting.

A House of Delegates subcommittee voted 5-2 against the measure, with five Republicans voting against the bills. 

The only bill approved was one allowing those 65 and older to vote early.

Virginia Beach Registrar Donna Patterson got a lot of heat from residents on Election Day who waited for upwards of five hours in line.  

"We will go precinct by precinct and really try to figure out what we could have done for this election and what we can do in the future to prevent the lines from being that long," Patterson told WAVY.com Nov. 13.

Two months later, she told 10 On Your Side she is disappointed that early voting with no excuse needed failed.

"The way of  voting is changing and we want to encourage people to vote and hopefully it will pass sometime in the future," Patterson said.

Patterson worked with delegate Ron Villaneuva to get early voting accepted in Virginia, but his measure failed overwhelmingly with his fellow Republicans voting against him. 

"I am disappointed," Villanueva said. "Next year, we are going to take another stab at it because we need to make the voting system more efficient."

However, Villanueva pointed out registrars from smaller communities thought early voting would burden their system.

"Some of the other issues are costs," Villanueva said. "They have limited resources and some have more robust budgets than others to accommodate larger crowds."

Politics may also have played a role.

"When you look at the subcommittee, some of the votes are politically driven, some are principle, and some of it practical," Villanueva said.

In Hampton Roads, Patterson said she is looking at the basics to make sure voting runs smoother in coming years.

"Do we need more polling places? We are looking at that.  We are looking at  what can we do with the voting machines we already have," Patterson said. "We didn't want anyone to stand for a long time. We are looking at every detail at every polling location."

Portsmouth resident Donna Holcomb, who recently moved from West Virginia, said early voting is vital in this day and age.

"Look, a lot of people work," Portsmouth resident Donna Holcomb said. "A lot of people work two jobs. Some people work three jobs. We are working to keep up with bills and everything.  Early voting is a good thing because we have other things to do... standing in line to vote is not one of them."

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