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Judge denies complaint against Virginia absentee voting laws

A federal judge in Virginia denied a request from voters seeking to challenge the state's newly-passed absentee voting legislation. 

Judge Rossie Alston of the Eastern District of Virginia, a Trump appointee, issued the ruling Friday, saying that although the voters’ complaint “may be well-founded, the court is constrained at this time from remedying these constitutional grievances.”

Under current law, Virginians must list a state-authorized reason for why they cannot vote in person. But a law passed this year that will take effect in July allows voters to cast absentee ballots without any formal excuse.

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The plaintiffs argue that in-person voting is just as safe as other essential activities and not requiring voters to file a formal excuse invites fraud.  

“The same social distancing and good hygiene practices — which are effective for preventing the spread of the virus when going out for essential services, like grocery shopping and other essential services — are also an effective way to prevent the spread of the virus for in-person voting,” the lawsuit said.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said in a statement Friday that the ruling “will save lives and is a huge win for Virginia and for democracy.”