PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Monday, October 17 is the deadline to register to vote in the November 8 General Election, but because of a new law in Virginia, you can register and vote on the same day – even on Election Day.
The new law is meant to break barriers to voting.
It’s something the NAACP advocated for when the legislation was passed two years ago. “It’s not secret that voter registration was created to create barriers you know to get black and brown people not to vote,” said NAACP Hampton President, Gaylene Kanoyton.
Kanoyton points to this new study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst which found states with same-day voter registration have higher turnout of Black and Latinx voters; anywhere from 2% to 17% higher.
“There’s some mixed evidence in terms of who it’s actually benefiting,” said ODU Political Science professor Ben Melusky.
Melusky said that along with Black and brown voters, younger voters, young transients such as his students, may benefit as well.
“You’re still trying to figure out how to set up your electric, the last thing you’re thinking is ‘I need to register with my new state and my new precinct,'” Melusky said.
Here’s how it works. Between now and Election Day, early voters can go into their registrar’s office and fill out the registration paperwork and vote. On Election Day, you can do the same at your polling place, however, your vote will be set aside as a provisional ballot.
“So there is a certain degree of security that comes with this. It’s not just allowing more people to come in and cast votes willy-nilly,” Melusky told WAVY.
Once officials verify you’re eligible, your vote will be counted.
“We should be happy that access to voting is becoming easier. This is all about expanding democracy.” Kanoyton said.