Voting Guide 2020
How to vote early in person, by mail or on Election Day
A complete rundown of voting rules, deadlines, contact information for local offices, applications and forms, along with background information, is available online at elections.virginia.gov, or you may contact local voter registrar offices. Here are the names of registrars, the physical address of the offices and the local phone numbers, in our area, as well as contact information for the Virginia Department of Elections:
City of Suffolk
440 Market St.
Suffolk, VA 23434
Virginia Department of Elections
Washington Building, First Floor
1100 Bank Street,
Richmond, VA 23219
General inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re eligible to vote on Election Day on Nov. 3, you’ve got a choice of how you cast your ballot.
The Virginia Department of Elections is offering voting by mail-in ballot. Or you can receive a ballot in the mail and drop it off in person at the local registrar’s office. Early in-person voting at the registrar’s office is an option. And the polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.
“If a voter wants to go vote early, it will look very similar to election day,” said Jessica Bowman, the chief deputy commissioner with the Department of Elections. “They will go to their general registrar’s office, show their ID, receive a ballot and put it in a machine just like election day.” Some communities are opening satellite voting locations. Bowman said voters should check their general registrar’s website for local hours and locations for satellite voting.
When it comes to voting by mail, “the earlier the better!” Bowman said. In addition, “voters are encouraged to check their polling place to make sure it hasn’t changed.” For those who want to vote in person on Election Day, polling hours will be the same — 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you’re in line at 7 p.m., you’ll be allowed to vote. Finally, Bowman said, “we encourage all voters to wear a mask and practice social distancing if they vote early or in-person on election day.”
For November’s election, the deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Oct. 13. Here’s a closer look at the options, along with key dates and information pertinent to each voting method.
The first step to voting absentee by mail is completing and submitting an application. You can do this online at the Department of Elections website. You’ll need to provide your name, birthdate, Social Security number and choose the locality where your ballot will be counted. After applying, the website will show if your application was received and if your ballot was sent.
Voters may also submit their vote-by-mail applications by email, fax or postal mail. To use these methods, first download and complete the application form. Then return the completed and signed form to your local registrar’s office as a scanned attachment to an email, by fax or by postal mail. An online lookup tool is available to get contact information for local registrar offices.
Once your application is processed, you’ll receive your ballot in the mail. Ballots are mailed starting 45 days before the election date; for the Nov. 3 election, that would be Sept. 18. Follow the instructions on the ballot and return it to your local registrar by 7 p.m. on Election Day. You may mail your ballot back or hand deliver it to your local registrar’s office. If you’re returning it by mail, the ballot must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by the registrar by noon on the third day after the election.
Mail-in ballots typically require a witness signature on the envelope. However, the Department of Elections recently said voters who are concerned about their health and safety due to the coronavirus may disregard the witness signature requirement.
In case of emergency
Virginia also has provisions for emergency absentee voting. You may request to vote emergency absentee until 2 p.m. on the day before the election. To cast an emergency absentee ballot, you must meet certain requirements. For example, if you had an obligation arise after noon on the Saturday before the election due to your business, profession, or occupation, the hospitalization of you or a member of your immediate family; or the death of a member of your immediate family, you are eligible, the department says on its website.
If approved for an emergency absentee ballot, your general registrar shall provide the absentee ballot to your designated representative for delivery to you. The representative must be present while you mark your ballot. The emergency ballot must be returned to the registrar before the polls close.
Early in person
If you’d like to vote early in person, you may do so at the local registrar’s office beginning 45 days before Election Day and ending the Saturday before Election Day (Sept. 18 through Oct. 31 for the Nov. 3, 2020 election). You do not have to give a reason or fill out an application to vote early; however, you must be registered to vote. At the registrar’s office or a satellite voting location, you must provide your name and address and show an acceptable form of ID or sign an ID confirmation statement. A list of acceptable identification is available on the Department of Elections website.
If you are unable to provide an acceptable ID, and you do not wish or are unable to sign the ID confirmation statement, you will be offered a provisional ballot. You’ll receive written instructions from election officials on how to submit a copy of your identification or submit an ID confirmation statement so that your vote will be counted. You’ll have until noon on the Friday after the election to provide a copy of your identification to the electoral board.
Disabled-accessible voting equipment and curbside voting is available for early in person voting.
Voting on Election Day
If you choose to vote in person between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day, Virginia law requires voters to provide an acceptable form of identification at the polling place. If you do not have an ID, you’ll be asked to sign an ID confirmation statement or offered a provisional ballot. If you’re in line at 7 p.m., you’ll be allowed to vote. A photo ID is no longer required, but some forms of ID that could be presented must have a photo. Here is a list of acceptable forms of ID for voting in Virginia:
- Voter confirmation documents you received after you registered to vote
- Virginia DMV-issued driver’s license or identification card
- Valid U.S. Passport
- Any ID card issued by the U.S., Virginia, or a local Virginia government
- Any student ID card issued by a U.S. university or community college
- Valid student ID issued by a public school or private school in Virginia
- An employer-issued photo ID card
- Any current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or government document with your name and address
- An ID confirmation statement