City voters can begin casting ballots Sept. 23

Published 8:28 pm Monday, September 19, 2022

By Greg Goldfarb

Contributing Writer 

While most Suffolk voters will visit the polls in-person Tuesday, Nov. 8 to cast their ballot in the general election, thousands now opt to vote remotely or before election day.

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For all of those early and absentee voters, there are several ways for their voices to be heard, as long as they follow certain guidelines, deadlines and instructions.

“Some voters will be out of town on election day, some people don’t want to stand in line, some just like the convenience of voting early and marking that off their list of things to do,” Suffolk General Registrar Burdette J. Lawrence said. “They (early voters) need to bring some form of ID, or someone with them to assist them, if they need help voting; if they have requested an absentee ballot, but decided not to vote it, they must bring that ballot with them in order to vote on the voting machine. If they don’t have that ballot, they will have to vote a provisional ballot.”

These options come with important dates that Suffolk voters need to keep in mind.

  • In-person early voting and absentee voting by mail begins Friday, Sept. 23.
  • Sunday voting runs from 1:30-4:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 9 at the Suffolk Voter Registration Office, 440 Market Street, first floor.
  • Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, Oct. 17.
  • Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to a registered voter is Friday, Oct. 28.
  • First Saturday available to vote early is Oct. 29.
  • Last day to vote early in-person is Saturday, Nov. 5.

To be eligible to vote in Virginia, citizens must be at least 18 years old by election day, a U.S. citizen, a Virginia resident and they must be registered with the city registrar.

Suffolk has seven voting precincts, overseen by Lawrence, who leads Suffolk’s Elections and Registration Department. She encourages Suffolk voters to avail themselves of the different community services her department offers, including early voting.

In the 2020 general election, about 67,500 out of Suffolk’s some 96,000 residents were registered voters, according to Lawrence, with almost 50,000 of them actually turning out to vote. More than half of that total, 30,907, choose to vote early or by absentee ballot.

“People need to vote if they want their voice to be heard, politically,” Lawrence said. “I would like to see at least an 80 percent voter turnout. That would be great.”

In the event of any possible communication or electronic outages that could adversely affect the voting equipment, process and outcome, Lawrence said she and her staff “have prepared” for those and other possible unexpected circumstances.

Registered Suffolk voters may vote early at the voter registrar’s office as soon as 45 days before election day and up to the Saturday before election day.

People who wish to vote early and in-person don’t have to have a reason as to why they’re voting early or complete any paperwork. They must, however, provide their name, address and present an approved form of identification.

If acceptable identification is not at hand, applicants must sign an identification confirmation statement, or a provisional ballot will be offered and they are allowed until noon on the Friday following the election, to provide a copy of acceptable identification to the local electoral board or sign the identification confirmation statement. Provisional voters receive a notice to remind them of the deadline and right to attend the electoral board meeting.

Ballots may be dropped off on or before election day at one of the three official ballot drop boxes, which will be open Friday, Sept. 23, through Tuesday, Nov. 8, and will be locked at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8. All ballot drop boxes are under constant video surveillance:

  • Voter Registration Office, 440 Market Street, first floor.
  • North Suffolk Public Library, 2000 Bennett’s Creek Park Road.
  • Suffolk Executive Airport, 1200 Gene Bolton Drive.

On election day, Nov. 8, ballot drop boxes, in the form of blue canvas bags, will be located inside each polling precinct from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m..

If mailing in a ballot, they must be postmarked by Nov. 8, 2022, and received by the Lawrence’s office by noon, Monday, Nov. 14. Mail ballots to Voter Registrar, P.O. Box 1966, Suffolk, Virginia, 23434-1966.

Here is a list of local candidates competing in the November 8 election:

U.S. Representative

Second Congressional District: two-year term incumbent Elaine Luria, D, versus challenger Jen Kiggans, R.

Suffolk City Council

Chuckatuck Borough: Shelley S. Butler-Barlow, incumbent, against Patrick L. Bales and John M. Anderson.

Cypress Borough: Leroy Bennett, incumbent, versus Wallace Johnson.

Holy Neck Borough: Timothy Jett Johnson, incumbent, running unopposed.

Suffolk Borough: John T. Rector, incumbent, running unopposed.

Suffolk School Board   

Chuckatuck Borough: Linda W. Bouchard, Kim A. Slingluff and Karima Hopkins-Lockwood face off for the seat.

Cypress Borough: Karen L. Jenkins, incumbent, running unopposed.

Holy Neck Borough: DawnMarie Brittingham versus Julpenia O. Hill.

Suffolk Borough: Tyron D. Riddick, incumbent, versus J. Matt Shannon.

City council and school board races are for four-year terms.