Northam: State is prepared for unprecedented election and absentee voting

Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 10:35 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia’s governor says the state is ready for an unprecedented election seven weeks away.

“I want Virginians to know your vote is safe and it will count,” said Governor Ralph Northam, (D) Virginia.

During a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday afternoon, Northam said the State Department of Elections is prepared for November and the expected high number of absentee votes, either by mail or in-person.

“The combination of a presidential election year and a pandemic is something none of us have ever experienced,” said Northam.

So far, the state has received more than 790,000 requests for an absentee ballot. In 2016, during the last presidential election, absentee votes totaled only 566,000. In Virginia, you can vote absentee without needing an excuse.

“We have taken extra steps to ensure the security of our absentee ballots,” said Northam. “Every absentee ballot envelope is required to have intelligent mail barcodes and an election mail insignia. This is a critical security tool.”

The state can process absentee ballots ahead of time, to make sure those ballots coming in meet all the requirements, but the actual counting doesn’t start until after polls close. Northam warns it may take a few days before we know who won on election night.

Meanwhile, the doctor-turned-governor expressed his disappointment in President Donald Trump and recent revelations he downplayed coronavirus for months.

“When we have a president that ignores the science, number one and then goes against what even his consultants are telling him to do is just defeating the purpose and it’s very frustrating,” said Northam.

If you do plan to vote in person on election day, the state is tapping into $42 million from CARES Act funding to make sure poll workers have PPE like masks. Medical Corps volunteers will also be at polling locations to make sure everyone is following social distance guidelines.

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