RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — The countdown is on with about two weeks until Virginians hit the polls on Election Day.
10 On Your Side stopped in the state capitol for voter info 101 straight from Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Elections Christopher Piper, who says they are prepared for Election Day on Nov. 6.
Piper says there are steps that Virginians must take in order to cast their ballot.
“In order to cast your ballot you need to be properly registered,” said Piper. If you didn’t register to vote, you’ll have to wait until the next election. The deadline was Oct. 15.
If you are registered — Oct. 30 is the last day to request an absentee ballot application by mail. You can also do this online. Nov. 3 is the last day you can vote in-person absentee.
Additionally, when you get to the polls, you must have your photo identification card.
“You can obtain one for free at any of the general registrars office,” Piper said.
However, Commissioner Piper says many people don’t know that there are ways to cast a ballot if you forget your identification on the day of voting.
“If you happen to show up to the polling place, you can still ask to cast a provisional ballot, and when you cast that ballot it goes into an envelope and set aside so that you can come back to the general registrars office after the election and provide your photo ID at that point,” Piper said. “Instructions will be provided to you at the polling place, should that come up as something you need to do.”
You have to show up by Friday, Nov. 9 at noon with your ID.
According to Commissioner Piper’s office, as of Sept. 30, the Commonwealth has 5,624,332 registered voters, which is an increase over last year and in the 2014 election.
Additionally, he says there are already 11,000 more absentee ballots requested from students so far this year.
“We are excited about that and everyone can get excited when young people engage in our politics and nothing bad can come about that in my opinion,” Piper said.
And a lot of those students and younger voters are pushing others to get to the polls.
Cristelle Brown is the Virginia State Director of Spread the Vote, a nonpartisan, non-profit that aims to help the community successfully vote at the polls on Election Day.
“We have a lot of young volunteers here in Virginia,” said Brown. “No vote. No voice. If you want to change something, be the change. It’s very tough to get an ID, depending on someone’s circumstances. A lot of our clients are experiencing homelessness or reentering after incarceration and there are a lot of hoops they need to jump through to get a $40 piece of plastic.”
According to Spread the Vote, in the 2016 election 11 percent of eligible voters didn’t have IDs nationally, which is about 21 million people. Their mission is to help voters get what they need for the polls.
“I really just want every Virginia to get to the polls, make the time, you make time for what you make time for, so please, make the time,” said Brown.
If you didn’t register to vote, you’ll have to wait until the next election.
If you are registered:
- October 30 is the last day to request an absentee ballot application by mail. You can also request one online.
- The state doesn’t have early voting, but allows absentee voting if you can’t make it to the polls on Election Day for a variety of reasons. The deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5 p.m. Oct. 30. You can do so online or by contacting or visiting a registrar’s office.
- Absentee ballots must be returned to your local general registrar’s office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, which is Nov. 6.
- Voters can also complete an absentee ballot in person through Nov. 3.
- Qualifying reasons for absentee voting include pregnancy, a religious obligation or personal business or vacation outside where you live on Election Day.
- And then of course, Election Day is Tuesday, November 6. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We’ve seen an interest in voter registration so we anticipate a higher turnout. While we don’t expect long lines, it could take longer than just walking in and out,” Piper said.
For more information: https://www.elections.virginia.gov/