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April 2, 2020

The ACLU of Virginia provided a series of recommendations earlier this week to Gov. Ralph Northam on how to alleviate the negative impact COVID-19 will have on the ability of Virginians to participate in upcoming elections.

The specific recommendations show how the administration can ensure that voting in all 2020 elections can occur safely and without disenfranchising any eligible voters. Additionally, the ACLU of Virginia pulled out seven steps that require urgent action and laid out how each one can be implemented immediately using the legislative process.

The document focuses on three main issues: safely expanding access to voting by mail, ensuring fairness in returning and counting absentee ballots, and maintaining in-person polling locations.

“Government officials must act quickly and decisively to protect all Virginians during this time of crisis, but it cannot be used as an excuse to curtail our civil rights,” said Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga. “We must preserve the cornerstone of our democracy – the right to vote – even when it’s difficult.”

The ACLU of Virginia urged the governor to work together with the Department of Elections and local registrars and electoral boards to adopt and fund the list of recommendations.

The ACLU of Virginia has also set up a hotline to receive information on civil right and civil liberties violations in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Anyone with information should email or call (804) 803-3566.