Early and Absentee Voting is Already Underway in Virginia
By: Derek Bowers, Mason Votes 2020 Online Editorial Team
With the November 3rd less than 30 days away, now is the time to make your plan to vote. The state of Virginia offers early voting both in person and through absentee (mail in) ballots.
To register to vote or update your registration, find your local polling place, and apply to vote absentee (by mail) use Citizen Portal: https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation
You can check the location of your local voter registration office here to contact your local election officials: https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation/PublicContactLookup
You are able to vote early in person from now until the Saturday before election day (October 31, 2020). Read our student Guide to Voting for early vote locations and details.
There is no application needed to do this, and you will not be required to provide justification. However, a valid ID is required to be presented at the polling location when casting your vote.
ABSENTEE VOTING (by mail)
Most absentee ballots have already been sent out, as the State mails them 45 days in advance of the election, but you are able to request one until Friday, October 23, 2020 at 5 pm.
To request an absentee ballot, head to the Department of Elections Citizen Portal: https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation.
If you would prefer a paper copy of the absentee ballot form, it is available at this link: https://www.elections.virginia.gov/media/castyourballot/SBE-701-703.1.pdf and can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to the Virginia Department of Elections.
Virginia also requires a proof of valid ID to be submitted with this application or it can be presented when dropping off your absentee ballot at a polling place.
As a reminder, due to court decisions this year all Virginia residents will NOT require a witness signature on their absentee ballot. The state has confirmed that no ballot will be rejected due to a missing witness signature.
CASTING YOUR BALLOT
Absentee ballots can be mailed back by utilizing the prepaid postage on the envelope and dropping it in a USPS mailbox. Ballots can also be dropped in a clearly marked ballot drop box, or can be dropped off on election day at your local polling place by 7:00 PM.
All absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by election day and received by noon within 3 days of the election to be counted.
If you would like to track the status of your ballot, and see when your vote is counted, Virginia offers a ballot tracking link on their elections website: https://ballotscout.org/partners/5a8f1161-23a0-4fa0-8ec9-3e090e97e9b3/va-search
In the case that there are any issues or errors with your absentee ballot, you will be contacted by your local election registrar to make corrections.
TIPS & REMINDERS
Keeping in mind the ever-changing situation with COVID-19, Virginia also offers an emergency absentee ballot in the case that residents, their spouses, children, and/or parents are hospitalized. This must be requested by 2 pm the day before election day (November 2, 2020).
ADA Accessible voting and curbside voting are available as well. The Dept of Elections recommends that you contact your local polling place or election officials to make these arrangements.
As always, mask wearing and social distancing is recommended and may by required if voting or dropping off your ballot in person.