Absentee voting in Virginia and what you need to know before Election Day

Absentee voting in Virginia and what you need to know before Election Day

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - You’re probably hearing a lot of terms right now about voting before Election Day. Here in Virginia, it’s called absentee voting.

If that is how you plan to vote, you will need an absentee ballot application request form. You can pick it up at your local voter registrar’s office or have them mail it to you right now. Of course, you can also apply online.

That let’s election officials know that you want to vote absentee in Virginia. Now in the state you can vote ahead of the election without needing a reason.

“It’s no excuse absentee voting,” said Kirk Showalter, City of Richmond General Voter Registrar. “You can vote, say you can’t get to the polls on Election Day, without providing us a reason.”

Mark your calendar for September 18. That’s the first day for absentee voting in the commonwealth and when those ballots will start going out in the mail to voter’s who are requesting one.

Right now it’s kind of anybody’s guess because we don’t know how people are going to decide to vote,” said Showalter. “We are seeing an enthusiastic response to vote by mail.”

Showalter says around this time in 2016, her office had about 600 absentee voter applications approved. They’ve recently hit 13,000 with concerns over COVID-19.

“We are seeing a significant increase and that means 13,000 that won’t necessarily go to the polls on Election Day,” said Showalter.

If you do choose to vote absentee, but are also concerned about USPS mailing issues, Showalter says you do have options.

“Just bring it to the office of the general registrar if you wish so you don’t have to use the postal service or you can use a commercial delivery service too,” said Showalter.

But if you do drop your ballot off in the mailbox, elections officials say keep the following in mind.

“As long as it’s in the mail and postmarked by 7 pm and received by noon, the following Friday for your absentee ballot those ballots will be counted,” said Showalter.

One other important note the deadline to request that absentee ballot has moved up. It used to be a week before the election was the cutoff, now it’s 11 days before the election or October 23.

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