Early voting set to start in Virginia amid changes to absentee voting requirements

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 3:15 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2022 at 3:23 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Starting Friday, Sept. 23, early voting begins across Virginia. That means you can show up at your voter registrar’s office and vote in person. But how exactly you cast that ballot may vary this year.

“It might change, or it may look exactly the same, but for the big localities, there’s a new buzzword in town. It’s called ‘ballot-on-demand,’” said Keith Balmer, Richmond Office of Elections Director.

In Richmond, they’re using a ballot-on-demand system. Election officials will print your ballot when you arrive for early in-person voting to ensure no confusion with the changes.

You will then put that ballot into an Express Vote machine and make your selections digitally. After that, your paper ballot returns to you, and you drop it off at the traditional ballot counter.

“It’s a way in which registrars in big localities can ensure that voters are getting the right ballots because reporting absentee ballots by precinct will increase the number of ballot styles dramatically,” said Balmer.

Richmond, for example, now needs 77 different ballots available for early voting because that’s now many precincts the city has.

“We are in the process of making sure we’re ready. We are testing our voter equipment to make sure that they are tabulating results,” said Balmer.

Early voting ends Saturday, Nov. 5. The deadline to register to vote in Virginia is Oct. 17.

Meanwhile, Balmer says the need for poll workers continues. In Richmond, they usually need 700 people to get the job done and are still short a few hundred.