PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A record-shattering 790,000 Virginians have requested absentee ballots, which will be mailed to homes Friday.
Friday is also the day Virginia will launch in-person early voting at local registrar’s offices across the state.
Local registrar Walt Latham in York County advises voters to bring their patience; he is expecting lines when doors open Friday morning.
“If everyone shows up, we may have a line. I’m not wanting to dissuade people from voting, but if they show up on Friday and there is a line [keep in mind] we are going to be doing this for the next few weeks through October,” Latham said.
In-person early voting runs Sept. 18 through Oct. 31.
October 13 is the last day to register to vote or update your address and October 23 is the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail. The last day to get a postmark on your mail-in ballot is November 3, the federal election day.
Virginia now has what state officials call no excuse voting. Don’t have a government-issued ID or utility bill? You can sign a note attesting to your identity. You don’t have to state a reason as to why you want to vote early in-person, and, under a new law, if you make a mistake on your ballot, you get a second chance.
“If the ballot can be cured, then we have to notify the voter and give them a chance to fix it,” Latham said.
Because of the pandemic, a record number of voters across the country will cast their ballots by U.S. mail. There’s a stack of allegations that the postmaster general, at the behest of the president, has intentionally slowed down the mail in efforts to suppress votes.
This week the Postal Service generated and distributed a controversial postcard nationwide. Officials in several states, where ballots are mailed to all voters, say the postcard contains misleading information about how to cast ballots by mail. Registrar Latham advises voters to contact their local registrar’s office for details on when, where, and how to vote.
“If [voters] get anything election-related in their mail or in their e-mail or forwarded to them on Facebook, or in Facebook Messenger or posted on Facebook; if they have questions they should contact their local registrar or visit their local office,” Latham said.
Latham says early voters should not fret; all voters will be able to get the coveted “I Voted” stickers, regardless of how a ballot is delivered.
“We just bought 50 rolls so that we can make sure that everyone has a sticker, we would not anyone to be stickerless,” Latham said.
Beginning Friday morning, upon entering registrar’s offices, voters can expect to see signs advising social distancing and the wearing of masks. Hand sanitizer will also be available.
For more on absentee voting in Virginia, visit the Department of Elections website.