Today is National Voter Registration Day. What’s that you say? Voter registration is so last year. Not quite. We here in Virginia have no national or statewide candidates on the ballot, but several House of Delegate seats are up for grabs as well as scores of local offices. And many states are electing governors and/or members of Congress. To that end, we still recognize National Voter Registration Day. It is a day to celebrate democracy. A day to celebrate access to a basic right we have as American citizens, the right to cast a ballot for the candidate of our choice. If, for some reason, you aren’t registered to vote you can go to National Voter Registration Day to learn the law in your home state.
If you’ve recently moved to Virginia and would like to vote here in the upcoming general election it’s not too late. Virginia residents have until Tuesday, October 17th at 5:00 p.m. to register to vote in the upcoming general election. You can register online, through the mail, or in person. Visit Virginia Department of Elections website for more information.
Voting in Virginia is easy. In the 2020 Special Session, Virginia changed the law to allow for “no-excuse” absentee voting. A request an absentee ballot can be made by mail, fax, or email but it has to be received by the local registrar of elections by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 28th. An in-person request for an absentee ballot must be made by Saturday, October 29th. You can even request an absentee ballot on the same day your register to vote. Va. Code Ann § 24.2-701
Once the voter receives the ballot they must read all of the instructions that accompany it. It’s not a simple matter of checking a box! There are specific instructions on signing and placing the ballot in the provided envelope. If you are a first-time absentee voter, you might also have to send in a copy of some form of identification. Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-707. Your mailed vote has to be postmarked on or before November 8th and must be received by the local registrar of elections by noon on November 14th. Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-709. Virginia has also updated the definition of what it means to “mail” your ballot. You can use the U.S. Postal Service or any commercial delivery service (such as UPS or Fed Ex). You can’t however, use a personal courier service or ask someone to drop off your ballot for you. If going to the registrar of elections office would be difficult, you could drop off your ballot at a designated drop-off location. Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-707.
If you don’t want to bother with an absentee ballot, voting in person is equally easy. In fact, early voting in Virginia begins this week on Friday, September 17th and continues until Saturday, October 30th at 5:00 p.m. BUT you can’t vote every Saturday. Early voting is held at the city or county office of the Registrar of Elections during normal business hours. That means between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Virginia Code Section 24.2-701.1 mandates that the Registrar’s office be open from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. the two Saturdays before the General Election, this year, Saturday, October 29th and Saturday, November 5th.