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New Law Allows Drop-off Boxes For Ballots Amid Fears of Mail Delays

With less than two months before Election Day, Governor Ralph Northam has signed a bill into law that aims to make it easier to vote early in Virginia. 

The legislation is the first to become law from the General Assembly’s current special session. 

It lets local governments create secure drop-off boxes and drop off locations for absentee ballots -- in lieu of sending them in the mail. It also provides $2 million for prepaid return postage. 

The change will help clarify a gap in state code that has left local election officials unclear about whether the boxes are allowed.

With recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service, many Democrats and voting rights advocates have worried about delays in election mail.

Senate Republicans opposed the bill, calling it expensive and unnecessary. They raised security concerns about potential ballot harvesting and people tampering with drop boxes. 

Numerous reports -- including one from a voting integrity commission launched by President Donald Trump’s administration -- found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Data from the Virginia Department of Elections shows that requests for mail-in ballots has already exceeded the total for 2016’s general election - by almost two times. 

Absentee voting starts September 18th. Election day is November 3.