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Why Va. Didn't Keep Polls Open Later

Because of heavy turnout and icy weather in Northern Virginia, some voters were asking yesterday why the state didn't keep the polls open later, as Maryland did. Here's why:

Susan Pollard, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Board of Elections, said that a request for longer poll hours would have to come from one of the political parties and approved by a judge. No one requested an extension, she said.

By Steve Fehr  |  February 13, 2008; 2:49 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2008/President  
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Next: Potomac Primary Roundup: Weather Can't Stop McCain, Obama


Couldn't the Governor or Attorney General make the request in the name of the 'people of Virginia?'

If not, that's a flaw that needs to be addressed by the Legislature. But, there is no perfect solution. Human subjective judgment will always be involved; on the part of the petitioners and on the part of the official making the decision. But at least I would hope that in Virginia somebody could represent 'the people' beyond just the candidates.

At the polling place I was at in Northern Virginia about six people showed up at 6:55 p.m. and then two more right at 7:00 p.m. Nobodyelse came after that.

Other times when there have been no weather problems, I've seen people arrive just after the polls closed and had to be turned away.

Posted by: NoVA | February 14, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

It is shameful that polls close at 7 in the first place. That must be one of the earliest times in America.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 15, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

In 2004 22 states' polling places closed at 7:00 pm.

Virginia is one of nine states that open at 6:00 am; and its polls are open for 13 hours. Only two states open earlier and have longer hours. That excludes New Hampshire and Vermont which are geared to the small towns in those states.

Virginia would seem to be in the top tier of states as to Opening Time and number of hours in which people can vote. Plus, it allows liberal In-person Absentee ("early") voting for up to five weeks prior to Election Day. But, it is at a limited number of locations.

Posted by: NoVA | February 15, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

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