Voting in Virginia - 2020 Elections
Virginia’s election season is upon us and early voting has begun. Over a million voters have requested a mail ballot or voted early in-person, dwarfing previous year’s totals. With five weeks until Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd, knowing the requirements and different options to vote safely and effectively is imperative. Let’s ensure your voice is heard this election.
See below for a step by step outline on how to vote in this year’s election.
REGISTRATION DATES & REQUIREMENTS
In order to give yourself the option to vote, one must first register to vote.
To register to vote in Virginia you must:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a resident of Virginia and of the precinct in which you want to vote
- Be 18 years old (any person who is 17 years old and will be 18 years of age at the next general election shall be permitted to register in advance and also vote in any intervening primary or special election)
- If convicted of a felony, you must have had your civil rights restored
- Not currently be declared mentally incompetent by a court of law
These registration dates are crucial to note:
- Online Voter Registration: until Tuesday, October 13th 5:00 p.m. in person and 11:59 p.m. online.
- Find your local registrar's office here
- Other locations where you may register
VOTING OPTIONS IN 2020
This year, the early voting period runs from Friday, September 18th to 5:00 pm Saturday, October 31st (dates and hours may vary based on where you live). You do not need to have an excuse to vote early. If you prefer, you can plan to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, where polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If your preference is to vote early in-person or on Election Day, know that there are guidelines in place to keep voters and poll workers safe. Find your polling center through the Virginia Department of Elections.
What to bring
If you do not have an ID, don’t panic -- you still can have the opportunity to vote. When you show up, simply sign an ID Confirmation Statement that you are the registered voter you claim to be and you will be able to vote a regular ballot.
Voters who do not show one of the required forms of identification and do not complete or sign the ID Confirmation Statement will be offered a provisional ballot. After completing the provisional ballot, you will be given written instructions with required additional steps to complete from the election officials so that your vote can be counted.
Voting by Mail
With new guidelines in place this year, voting-by-mail is a safe and secure option that makes voting more convenient and accessible for all of Virginia’s voters. Some first-time voters may not be able vote absentee by mail, even seasoned voters who move to new jurisdictions, unless they meet certain conditions.
Items of note, Virginia recently enacted several laws for the 2020 election that improve the vote-by-mail process including secure drop boxes for localities, guidelines for an absentee cure process, and pre-paid postage for return ballots.
- Request a Ballot by Mail: (request received by) 5:00 p.m., Friday, October 23rd
Follow these steps to vote-by-mail:
- If you registered to vote by mailing in your voter registration application, and it is your first time voting in your locality, check with your local election official to confirm your eligibility to vote absentee by mail.
- Request your mail-in ballot with a mail ballot application (online or by mail).
- Track your ballot here.
- When your ballot arrives, read it carefully and follow the instructions to complete it and return it by mail or at a secure drop box.
- Absentee ballots must be postmarked on or by Election Day and returned to the Office of Elections by 12:00 p.m. on the Friday immediately after Election Day.
To ensure you effectively cast your ballot by mail, you should request your ballot as far in advance of the election as possible. The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Friday, October 23rd. The local election official must receive your request by 5:00 p.m.
We hope you found this article helpful. Make sure to make your plan to vote by November 3rd!