This year, there is much concern about how to vote safely. Some are recommending absentee mail-in voting, a process that requires filling out an application and getting approval before a deadline. However, I recommend that those of us who want the least inconvenience instead decide to vote early. The process is as easy as voting in-person except that instead of just one day for all of the area to vote, you can vote whenever is convenient for you in the 30 available weekdays.
As the Virginia elections website reports:
To vote early in-person, do the following:
- Starting 45 days before Election Day, visit your local registrar’s office or a satellite voting location in your county or city to vote early. Remember, the Saturday before Election Day is the last day to vote early.
- You do not have to have a reason or fill out an application to vote early.
- At the registrar’s office or satellite voting location, you must provide your name and address and show an acceptable form of ID or sign an ID Confirmation Statement. To view a complete list of acceptable IDs, please visit our Voting In-Person page. If acceptable identification is not provided, you must sign an ID Confirmation Statement or a provisional ballot will be offered and you are allowed until the Friday at noon following the election to provide a copy of acceptable identification to the electoral board or sign an ID Confirmation Statement. Provisional voters receive a notice to remind them of the deadline and right to attend the electoral board meeting.
- Accessible equipment and/or curbside voting is available upon request.
As you can read in this quote, you can vote early just because you want to without any need for application or approval. You simply show up at the local registrar’s office and say you want to vote early. “Upon request” you can even vote curbside.
These are not new rules. They have always had these so that those with special needs or those who are working the polls can have their vote counted.
Election day this year is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Forty-five days before is Friday, September 18, 2020 and the Saturday before election day is Saturday, October 31, 2020.
Because the registrar is open only on weekdays, this means that you can cast your early vote on weekdays between Friday, September 18 and Friday, October 30. With Monday, October 12 the federal holiday of Columbus Day, this leaves 30 weekdays you can vote on.
You can look up your registrar’s office address and what will be on the ballot by checking your registration status on the Virginia elections website.
Once verifying your information, you can scroll down to the heading “General Registrar Office Contact Information” to see the address and the hours they are open.
On the same page under the heading “My Ballot,” you can click to show the ballot of the upcoming vote. As I’m writing this, it currently says “Ballot Information Was not Found,” but after the ballot is finalized, the ballot information should display in this space. To find the Sample Ballot outside of this tool, you can go to the General Registrar Office’s listed URL and click to download the Sample Ballot from there.
Voting early has the same process as voting in-person. You will need to bring a photo id, verify some of the information with the poll worker, and then cast your vote.
I vote in Albemarle Country. The Albemarle County Voter Registration Registrar Office physical address is 1600 5th St, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Their hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. You can call ahead if you want to find out if they are busy at 434-972-4173. Their sample ballot can be found here.
And for those of you who are wondering, you do still get an “I Voted” sticker if you remember to pick one up on the way out.
Photo by Noah Pederson on Unsplash