When Virginians head to the polls on Nov. 3, some may be in for a surprise when they arrive. Consider the recent high voter turnout in Georgia, Kentucky, Texas and Wisconsin where COVID-19 challenged election officials who were administering hotly contested primaries. Virginia could see a similar surge in turnout this November — even under social distancing.  Add to that the possibility of a shortage of poll workers and the potential for longer wait times and other glitches only increases.

To help avoid those complications, planning ahead how to cast your ballot is wise. Registering now and planning ahead will keep you from missing key deadlines, and you can then devote more of your attention to the candidates and issues to cast a ballot that reflects Faithful Citizenship.

Register now

First, there is no better time to register to vote than now. The earlier you register the more likely you are to be prepared to vote and to make your ballot count on Election Day. Fortunately, you can do this entirely online; you can call your local registrar to request a registration form; or you can download, print and mail or email your registration form to your registrar or elections office.

Secondly, Virginians have options to avoid potentially long lines on Election Day. This year, we will have two alternatives: 1) casting a No-excuse Absentee Ballot or 2) voting Early In-person. Both of these options would reduce potential concerns posed by large turnout at polling places.

No-excuse Absentee Voting

In Virginia, the only way to vote by mail is to vote absentee. Registered voters must first apply to do so. A recently passed state law that took effect July 1, however, eliminated a prior requirement that voters list a “valid reason” — such as illness/disability, travel or business — on absentee ballot applications. Net effect: any registered voter can vote by mail in the Nov. 3 Election. In order to do that, they first must fill out an absentee ballot application. As Dan Casey recently pointed out in The Roanoke Times, voting by mail involves some careful planning to make sure that your ballot is completed and returned properly so that it is counted.

Please see below for important deadlines and to request an absentee ballot.

Early In-person Voting

Another option is avoiding the rush on Election Day by voting in-person before Nov. 3. Starting 45 days before Election Day, you can visit your local registrar’s office or a satellite voting location in your county or city to vote early. This year, “early in-person voting” is available from Sept. 18 through Oct. 31. (The Saturday before Election Day is the last day to vote early.) You do not have to have a reason or have to fill out an application to vote early.

Regardless of which of the two above options you choose, by planning ahead you will improve your prospects for having a smooth and effective voting experience and avoid unnecessary hassles on Election Day.

We will provide voter education resources in the coming months. In the meantime, please share this information with your family members and friends now, so they will be prepared to participate in these important decisions when the time comes.

To VOTE on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (General Election)

Can’t make it on Election Day?

  • Request Absentee Ballot by mail by: 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 27, 2020.
  • Request Absentee Ballot by appearing in person by: 5:00 p.m. Saturday, October 31, 2020
  • Vote Early In-person from September 18 to October 31

Photo Credit: Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

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