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Va. Judge Permanently Overturns Policy Permitting Late Ballots w/o Postmarks

'It’s important that we have a consistent rule that matches the statute and not an additional rule that’s sort of made up by the board...'

A state judge ruled that the Virginia Board of Elections’s rule allowing officials to count mail-in ballots that arrived late without a postmark is illegal, and ordered state officials to repeal it this week.

Virginia Circuit Court Judge William Eldridge ruled that the state’s late mail-in ballot law violated state statute. He permanently banned the law in future Virginia elections, according to the Public Interest Legal Foundation.

PILF sued the state’s board of elections in October on behalf of Thomas Reed, an election official in Virginia’s Frederick County.

“This is a big win for the Rule of Law,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said in a statement.

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“This consent decree gives Mr. Reed everything he requested—a permanent ban on accepting ballots without postmarks after Election Day and is a loss for the Virginia bureaucrats who said ballots could come in without these protections,” he continued.

The state’s board of elections introduced the rule in August, but it was blocked from going into effect because of PILF’s lawsuit.

Virginia was, therefore, prevented from counting late ballots without postmarks during the 2020 election, PILF confirmed.

Existing Virginia state law says that “any absentee ballot returned to the general registrar after the closing of the polls on Election Day but before noon on the third day after the election and postmarked on or before the date of the election shall be counted.”

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Virginia’s attempt to change the rules would have violated this law, Eldridge said.

“It’s important that we have a consistent rule that matches the statute and not an additional rule that’s sort of made up by the board,” said Christopher Marston, an attorney for Robert Hess, chairman of the Winchester Republican Committee, who was also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

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