Hanover offers ‘drive-thru’ early voting options for residents

Updated: Oct. 24, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With just 10 days until the official election day, Hanover County’s Board of Elections is trying to make voting easier by offering drive-thru voting. The best part: voters won’t even have to leave their cars.

“It’s just like if you went inside, in that you will be checked in, you will be provided a ballot, and then you see that ballot inserted into the tabulator right here," said the County’s Director of Elections Teri Smithson. "Right now, Hanover County at the end of business Friday has had a 40% voter turnout in early voting.”

Halloween is the last Saturday you can cast your vote before election day.

Smithson says according to recently passed legislation in the Code of Virginia, the general registrar’s office for all localities in the commonwealth must be open a minimum of eight hours between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the first and second Saturday immediately preceding all elections.

In addition to in-person voting indoors and curbside voting, Hanover has implemented the drive-thru process for people who want to avoid the hassle of lines and social distancing at the polling place.

“You get to bypass the folks outside that are doing the political campaigning. They get to have the security of the polling place in their car,” Smithson said. “As it becomes more popular I think people will take advantage of it.”

Saturday, Hanover saw 229 votes cast from the drive-thru alone.

County resident Stuart Patterson says he wasn’t planning on voting until he saw the signs for the drive-thru voting at the Hanover County Court Complex.

“I did not come out here to vote, I was on my way somewhere and I saw it and I said ‘hey let’s get this over with,’” Patterson said.

“I like the variety and it’s really awesome," said Able Bolden. "I’ve waited in line before I like the drive-thru it’s really nice,”

Hanover will be offering another round of drive-thru voting next Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Court Complex.

While other localities didn’t have drive-thru options, places like Henrico County experienced wrap-around lines. Voters say wait times weren’t too long.

“I think about 15 minutes it hasn’t been too bad,” said one voter.

Henrico’s Director of Elections Mark Coakley says since early voting began, the county has experienced record levels of voting.

“We’re feeding off the voters' excitement and we just have such a positive attitude with over 42% of registered voters have already cast their ballot, in person or by mail,” said Coakley. “I think the engagement meant comes from the fact that it’s the voter choice to come to vote. We’ve only told them to show up on November 3 to come out to vote, but now they’re coming out on a Saturday at 9 a.m.”

Coakley says this year there have been 99,000 absentee ballots cast in Henrico so far, compared to roughly 17,000 total absentee votes cast in the past three presidential elections.

The City of Richmond also has been experiencing record levels of voting.

“We’re over 29,000 votes so far there in West Laburnum voting location which has been in operation for over a month,” said Chief Election Officer John Gerner. “We’ve already done more than 400 votes here at city hall, which opened today.”

So far in Chesterfield over 58,051 ballots have been cast from the 256,000 registered voters.

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