Delegate Mark Keam - Virginia's 35th House District

Delegate Seeks Local Option on Poll-Closing Times

Sun Gazette

Delegate Seeks Local Option on Poll-Closing Times

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 8:06 am

Delegate Wants Local Option on Poll-Closing Time: Del. Mark Keam (D-Vienna/Oakton) thinks local governments should have a little leeway in determining poll hours.

Keam has patroned legislation that would give counties and cities, at their option, the ability to set polls hours from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., an hour more than currently permitted. Under current law, statewide poll hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Keam said traffic congestion in Virginia's urban corridors, and its potential impact on the voting public, spurred his proposal.

"In Northern Virginia, with all the traffic, people are getting home later and later every day," Keam told the Sun Gazette. "By 8 o'clock, rush hour should be over."

Keam said he didn't know the cost to localities of adding an hour on Election Day, but estimated it would be relatively minimal. And he said the option to make the switch would remain with the elected officials of each local government.

"If they don't want to do it, that's fine," Keam said.

If enacted, the proposal — which has been sent to committee — could have an impact on all jurisdictions, even those that don't extend polling hours.

If even a single locality opted to extend polling hours to 8 p.m., all jurisdictions would have wait until all polls statewide were closed before reporting precinct results.

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