Senate Approves Emergency Poll Extensions

The Virginia Senate has passed legislation allowing a judge to extend voting hours in the case of an emergency.

Voting largely along party lines, the Senate passed Democratic Senator George Barker's bill 22 to 18. Governor Tim Kaine asked Barker to sponsor the bill after a winter storm prevented perhaps thousands of Virginians from voting in last month's presidential primaries.

The bill allows the secretary of the State Board of Elections or the chairmen of the political parties to petition a judge to keep the polls open up to three hours later.

Opponents of the bill said the chairman of one political party could seek extended hours from a friendly judge without consulting anyone else. Barker said that's not likely to happen.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.


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