Take advantage of early voting

Published 7:07 pm Friday, September 17, 2021

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Early in-person voting has begun in Suffolk and across Virginia, and we urge people to take advantage of this relatively new opportunity if they like.

Up until last year, Virginians had to vote at the polls on Election Day unless they had a reason they could not come to the polls that day. If they qualified for one of those reasons — health concerns, a business trip or vacation, military service, educational obligations and more being some of the most common — then they could cast a ballot early, either in person or by mail.

But last year, the need to cite a reason for being absent was removed, effectively giving Virginia what other states have known as “early voting” for years.

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You can now vote early, either in person or by mail, for any reason or no reason at all. Perhaps you do have an obligation that will take you out of the area on Election Day, or maybe you have already made up your mind and simply want to avoid the crowd. Either way, it counts.

Early voters in Suffolk may visit the Suffolk Registrar’s Office, 440 Market St., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday through Oct. 30. The same office will also be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on two Saturdays, Oct. 23 and Oct. 30. Oct. 22 is the last day to request a ballot be mailed to you.

Of course, if you simply enjoy going to the polls on Election Day, you can still do that as well.

Remember, you need to show a form of identification to vote, but that ID no longer needs to have a picture on it.

Regardless of how you feel about early voting, voter IDs or any of the other issues surrounding it, it should be easy for all Americans to agree on one thing: it should be very easy for qualified voters to vote one time, and very difficult for anyone to cast a vote when they are not qualified or have already voted in the same election.

With that in mind, lawmakers and election officials must strike a delicate balance to ensure the voting process is as aboveboard and unassailable as possible. The ability for all qualified voters to vote, and for every single one of those votes to count, and for the results of those elections to be accepted by all and have a peaceful transfer of power, is at the very heart of maintaining our government and way of life.

Virginians can register to vote, check their registration status, find their polling place or apply for a mailed ballot by visiting: vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation.