Today is National Voter Registration Day. What’s that you say? Voter registration is so last year. Not quite. While there are no national or state-wide offices on the ballot there are still state and local elections to consider. Here in Virginia several seats in both the House of Delegates and the Senate are open as well as scores of local offices. For example, in my home county, Chesterfield, we will be electing a commonwealth attorney, a court clerk, members of the Board of Supervisors and members of the Board of Education. Offices that may not garner as much media attention but can affect your daily life in many ways. To that end, we 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 Monday, October 16th at 5:00 p.m. to register to vote. You can still register to vote after this date, but on Election Day you will have to vote in person using a provisional ballot. 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 for an absentee ballot can be made in person or 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 27th. 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 7th and must be received by the local registrar of elections by noon on November 10th. 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 22d and continues until Saturday, November 4th 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 28th and Saturday, November 4th.