New voting laws could mean changes for some voter registrars

New voting laws could mean changes for some voter registrars
Absentee Ballot Application (Source: WHSV)

WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV) - Dozens of new laws in Virginia went into effect last week, including some making changes to the way Virginians vote. Most significantly, there is now “no excuse” absentee voting and voters no longer need to show a photo ID in order to vote.

Previously, in order to vote absentee, you had to qualify for one of the reasons on an approved list. Now, early voting in-person starts 45 days before the election, and there is no list of requirements to meet.

Lisa Jeffers, general registrar for Waynesboro, said this change could lead to some changes at the office, depending on turnout. It will also mean more work for not only their office, but all registrar offices.

“It’s going to require most postage, more inventory as far as your envelopes, because it is a packet that a voter is mailed when their ballot is sent to them,” Jeffers said. “And it’s going to require, like you said, more manpower. The potential for the turnout in-person just depends on where we are as far as how people take the whole social distancing, and whether they want to interact with other people coming in person.”

Jeffers said they’ve had two elections during the pandemic so far, and more than 2,400 voted absentee in the May election. Those elections have been a trial run for November, when more absentee voting could be possible.

“We were extremely busy with that,” Jeffers said. “The online system worked well, people requested by phone, by email, but that definitely helped for what we’ve got, or prepared us for November.”

The window to get your absentee ballot to the registrar’s office has now been extended. Jeffers said as long as your ballot is postmarked by Election Day, and in the office by Friday during the same week, the absentee ballot will be counted. Jeffers said that could mean it takes longer to declare a winner.

In terms of the voter ID law, Jeffers said people now just need to bring something that verifies their address. For most people, she said that will still be a driver’s license, but for others that could be a bank statement or a work ID. If you don’t have any of those, Jeffers said people can sign an affirmation of identity form and still be allowed to vote.

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