HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Virginians will not head to the polls Tuesday, as planned, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Ralph Northam extended the May 5 election by two weeks, to May 19.
Accomack, Chesapeake, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Newport News, Northampton, Surry, and Williamsburg have elections for positions like mayor, town/city council and school board members.
Governor Northam suggests mail-in ballots, as the safest way to vote during the pandemic. Voters can request an absentee ballot online, or you can download a request form and mail it to the registrars office. When requesting an absentee ballot, you may select “2A” disability or illness as a reason, according to the Department of Elections.
The deadline for mail-in requests must be received by May 12 at 5 p.m.
Mary Lynn Pinkerman, the Chesapeake Registrar says her office has already filed about 13,000 absentee ballots. Pinkerman says that number is very close to the number of absentee ballots in the last Presidential election. She expects even more in the next two weeks.
“Voting at home is the ideal situation. That way there is very limited contact. Everything is done through the mail. We can keep the numbers down,” explained Pinkerman.
On May 19, three elections officials will work at each of the polling sites. Pinkerman says Chesapeake Emergency Management will provide PPE for the officials.
“We have to by law open the precincts on Election Day, but we have to maintain the social distancing. We are going to do a lot of the curbside voting, to keep people from coming into the polling places because we are still going to be adhering to the 10 person rule.”
Curbside votes will be placed in an envelope, then unsealed by officials the end of the day and put through the machine.
“We are encouraging them to vote curbside,” Pinkerman said.
She suggests checking the city website closer to the election day because some locations will not allow voting.
Stephanie Iles, Norfolk Registrar says her office is getting thousands of applications daily from voters. She says this ideal for everyone, especially those that are considered high-risk for the virus.
Iles sent WAVY.com a step-by-step guide to apply for an absentee ballot.
Under “Choose an Absentee Option,” select the FIRST OPTION:
I have a reason or condition that prevents me from going to the polls on Election Day.
Under “Choose an Absentee Ballot Reason,” select:
My disability or Illness (for COVID-19 pandemic if you have no other qualifying reason)
Please note: Voters will need their Virginia Driver’s License Number or Virginia DMV identification number to attach their electronic signature to their application. If they do not have a Virginia DMV ID, they can print the application, sign and mail to their Registrar office for processing. Voters who do not have computer access may contact their local Registrar office to request an absentee ballot application.
Iles says polling places are still required by law to open, but with several changes.
“We will have our polling places open on Election Day, but due to the governor’s requirements with gathering on no more than 10 people and social distancing. We will limited the number of persons coming into a polling place to no more than 4 to 5 people at a time. So, if people come out to vote in person on Election Day, we ask that they practice social distancing and exercise patience because you maybe waiting in line.”
Iles also encourages people to wear a face mask. Norfolk polling places will offer curbside voting for people with disabilities or over 65 years old.
WAVY.com posted all of this information in our voter guide.