Northam postpones May and June elections by two weeks, encourages absentee voting


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced on Friday that he has delayed the May general and special elections as well as the June primary by two weeks in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The May elections were originally set for May 5 and will now be on May 19 throughout the 56 participating localities in Virginia. The June primary elections were originally scheduled for June 9 and now will be held on June 23.

Initially, the governor requested the May elections take place in November, and while the House of Delegates approved, the Senate did not.

“Virginians should never have to choose between casting a ballot and risking their health. I am grateful to the House of Delegates for taking action to move our upcoming elections, but unfortunately the Senate failed to make the same commonsense decision,” said Governor Northam. “While we strongly encourage every Virginian who can vote by mail to do so, we will also take every necessary step to conduct these elections in a way that ensures in-person voting is done safely and responsibly.”

As a result of the May elections continuing with in-person voting, Northam assures the public that safe social distancing measures will be taken as per CDC guidelines. The governor is also encouraging the use of absentee ballots for the municipalities holding elections on May 19 to continue preventing the virus spread.

Absentee ballots can be requested online and forms are available for download to mail in the request for a ballot. General Registrar offices must receive mailed-in requests for absentee ballots by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 12. Additionally, the completed mailed ballots must be returned to and received by the local General Registrar by 7 p.m. on May 19. 

General Registrar location information can be found online.

According to the Department of Elections, voters completing an online application to request an absentee ballot can follow the prompts and select “I have a reason or condition that prevents me from going to the polls on Election Day.” From there, they can select “my disability or illness” as the reason.

Those requesting an absentee ballot by mail can use reason 2A, “my disability or illness” to complete their form.

Since the registration deadline has passed, new candidates are not eligible to vote in the May 19 elections and only voters eligible to vote on May 5 can participate.

“Elections are a critical function of our government,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “We will do everything in our power to maintain the integrity of our democratic process while ensuring the safety of all Virginians.” 

The Office of the Governor also said that election officers are needed to work at polling locations and Governor Northam encourages college and university students to get involved as election officers, especially when many retired Virginians typically hold these positions.

Those interested in working as an election officer on Election Day can apply online, email, call 800-552-9745, or contact their respective locality’s General Registrar.

The full briefing can be viewed online.

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