Voter guide: What you need to know before casting your ballot in the November election

Your Local Election HQ

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Elections look different this year. Concerns about community spread of COVID-19 forced the push back of elections in May and June, and election officials are asking people to vote absentee as often as possible.

The issue of mail-in voting has become a hot topic as Americans look for ways to safely participate in November’s presidential election. President Donald Trump has made mail-in voting a campaign issue – even acknowledging he’s starving the U.S. Postal Service of money to make it harder to process an expected surge of mail-in ballots.

10 On Your Side is Your Local Election Headquarters. We have put together a comprehensive how-to guide for voters that includes information on polling locations, the different options for casting ballots, and deadlines/requirements to register to vote.

VIRGINIA VOTER INFORMATION

  • When? Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3.
  • Where? You can find your polling place on the Virginia Department of Elections website.
  • What should I bring? Photo identification is required to vote. Find a full list of accepted IDs here.
  • How can I stay safe? If you plan to vote in-person, The Virginia Department of Health encourages voters to wear a face mask, wash their hands before and after voting, stay six feet away from each other and not touch their face or mask.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

When is the deadline to register to vote in November?

Deadline to register to vote or update an existing registration.Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 (extended to Oct. 15 after system outage)
Where can I register to vote?Online, request an application from your local registrar or at your local DMV office
Do I register by political party?No, Virginia residents do not register by party. 
If I have been convicted of a felony, can I vote?Only if you have had your rights restored by the Governor of Virginia. Check your status here.
Can I vote without a photo ID?NO. Click here for a list of accepted IDs.

Can I vote by mail without an excuse for the November election? Yes. More information on mail in ballots here.

When is the deadline to request an absentee mail-in ballot?5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, 2020
When is the deadline to request an absentee ballot or vote early in-person?5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020
What is the deadline to mail my ballot?Your ballot must be postmarked by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3 (Election Day) and received by noon on Friday, Nov. 6 (Having the ballot postmarked by the deadline does not count if the ballot is still received after the deadline.)
Can I use COVID-19 as an excuse to vote by mail?YES
After I vote by mail, can I track my ballot?YES – Check here

Am I allowed to vote in-person BEFORE Election Day? More information on absentee and early voting here.

When is the first day I can vote early in-person for the November election?45 days before Election Day. Saturday, Sept. 19
When is the last day to vote early in-person in Virginia?The Saturday before Election Day (Oct. 31)
Do I need a reason to vote early in-person?NO

Voting in-person in Virginia on Election Day

When are polls open for the Nov. 3, 2020 General Elections?Polling hours in Virginia are 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Voters in line at 7 p.m. will be able to vote.
Where do I go to vote in-person on Election Day?Look up your polling place at this link

Voters who go to a polling place without a photo ID can cast a provisional ballot. They will be required to submit a copy of a valid ID by noon on Friday after the election is held.

General Registrar location information can be found online.

WHO’S ON THE BALLOT IN VIRGINIA?

Click on on the photos to view 10 On Your Side’s candidate profiles for those running in November.

U.S. House of Representatives – District 1

Qasim Rashid is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia’s 1st District.
Congressman Robert Wittman Official Photo

U.S. House of Representatives – District 2

Elaine Luria is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia’s 2nd District.
Scott Taylor is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia’s 2nd District.
David Foster is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia’s 2nd District.

U.S. House of Representatives – District 3

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott is running for U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia’s 3rd District.
John Collick is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia’s 3rd District.

U.S. House of Representatives – District 4

Leon Benjamin is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 4th District.
Donald McEachin is running for U.S. House of Representatives, Virginia’s 4th District

U.S. Senate

Mark Warner is running for the U.S. Senate.
Daniel Gade is running for U.S. Senate.

Click here to see a list of all candidates on the ballot in Virginia for the November 2020 election.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS ON THE BALLOT

Virginians will be voting on more than candidates in November. Two proposed amendments to the Constitution of Virginia will be listed on the November ballot. 

1. Virginia Redistricting Commission

The first proposed amendment would create a bipartisan redistricting commission that would draw election districts for the U.S. House of Representatives and the state Senate and House of Representatives. Currently, the Virginia General Assembly is responsible for drawing those election districts.  The redistricting commission would be made up of eight members of the Virginia General Assembly and eight Virginia residents. The Virginia General Assembly would vote on their proposed redistricting plans. 

BALLOT QUESTION

Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission,
consisting of eight members of the General Assembly and eight citizens of the Commonwealth,
that is responsible for drawing the congressional and state legislative districts that will be
subsequently voted on, but not changed by, the General Assembly and enacted without the
Governor’s involvement and to give the responsibility of drawing districts to the Supreme Court
of Virginia if the redistricting commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to
enact districts by certain deadlines?

EXPLANATION

Current Law:

Under the current Constitution, the General Assembly and the Governor are responsible for
drawing new election districts for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state Senate, and the
House of Delegates. These districts are required to be compact and contiguous, and to have
populations that are equal to each other.


Proposed Law:

The proposed amendment would shift the responsibility of drawing these election districts
from the General Assembly and the Governor to a bipartisan commission, made up of 16
persons, half being members of the General Assembly and half being citizens of the
Commonwealth. This commission would draw the election districts for the U.S. House of
Representatives, the state Senate, and the House of Delegates and then submit the maps to the
General Assembly for approval. If the commissioners are unable to agree on proposals for
maps by a certain date, or if the General Assembly does not approve the submitted maps by a
certain date, the commission is allotted additional time to draw new districts, but if maps are
not then submitted or approved, the Supreme Court of Virginia becomes responsible for
drawing these election districts.

The eight legislative commissioners are appointed by the political party leadership in the state
Senate and the House of Delegates, with an equal number from each house and from each
major political party. The eight citizen commissioners are picked by a committee of five
retired circuit court judges. Four of the retired judges are selected by party leaders in the
Senate and the House from a list compiled by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
Virginia. These four judges pick the fifth judge from the same list. This selection committee
then chooses citizen commissioners from lists created by party leaders in the Senate and the
House. Members and employees of Congress or the General Assembly cannot be citizen
commissioners. Each party leader in each house gives the selection committee a list of at least
16 candidates, and the committee picks two from each list for a total of eight citizen
commissioners.
For a plan to be submitted for the General Assembly’s approval, at least six of the eight citizen
commissioners and at least six of the eight legislative commissioners must agree to it.
Additionally, for plans for General Assembly districts to be submitted, at least three of the
four Senators on the commission have to agree to the Senate districts plan and at least three of
the four Delegates on the commission have to agree to the House of Delegates districts plan.
The General Assembly cannot make any changes to these plans, and the Governor cannot veto
any plan approved by the General Assembly.
The amendment also adds a requirement that districts provide, where practicable,
opportunities for racial and ethnic communities to elect candidates of their choice.

A “yes” vote will make a bipartisan commission responsible for the initial drawing of election
districts.
A “no” vote will leave the sole responsibility for drawing the districts with the General
Assembly and the Governor.

2. Exempt Property

The second proposed amendment would eliminate property taxes on cars and trucks owned by some disabled veterans. Currently, all Virginians pay property taxes for their vehicles. If passed, this amendment would suspend property taxes on vehicles owned by disabled veterans. To qualify, those veterans must have be 100% service-connected, total, and permanent disabled. Each veteran would be able to claim one car or truck under this proposed amendment.

BALLOT QUESTION

Should an automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the
United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent
service-connected, permanent, and total disability be free from state and local taxation?

EXPLANATION

Current Law

Generally, the Constitution of Virginia requires all property be taxed. However, there are
certain types of property that the Constitution specifically says is not subject to taxation.


Proposed Law

This amendment would add to the list of property that is not subject to state or local taxation
one motor vehicle owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed
forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent (100%) service-
connected, permanent, and total disability. The amendment says that motor vehicle means an
automobile or pickup truck.
The motor vehicle would be exempt from taxation beginning on the date the veteran gets the
motor vehicle or January 1, 2021, whichever is later. A veteran who claims this tax exemption
would not get back any taxes paid on his motor vehicle prior to January 1, 2021.
Under this amendment, a motor vehicle that is owned by the spouse of a veteran of the United
States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard with a one hundred percent (100%)
service-connected, permanent, and total disability could also be free from taxation.
The General Assembly is allowed to pass a law that places conditions or restrictions on this
exemption.

A “yes” vote will mean the Constitution of Virginia will be amended to exempt one
automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United
States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent (100%)
service-connected, permanent, and total disability from state and local taxation.
A “no” vote will leave the Constitution of Virginia unchanged and automobiles and pickup
trucks owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the
Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent (100%) service-connected,
permanent, and total disability will continue to be subject to state and local taxes.

Visit the Virginia Department of Elections website to learn more about the proposed amendments. 

Local Referendums

There are also several local referendums on the November ballot. Here’s a look at the ones appearing on ballots in the Hampton Roads region.

Gloucester County

Sales Tax
Should Gloucester County be authorized to levy a general retail sales tax at a rate not to exceed one percent (1 %),provided the revenue from the sales tax shall be used solely for capital projects for the construction or renovation of schools in Gloucester County and that the sales tax shall expire by July 31, 2040?
[]Yes
[]No

City of Norfolk

Casino Gaming
Shall casino gaming be permitted at a casino gaming establishment in the City of Norfolk on property east of Harbor Park Stadium bounded to the north by Park Avenue, to the South by the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River, and generally to the east by Norfolk & Western Railway railroad tracks with an approximate street address of 200 Park Avenue, as may be approved by the Virginia Lottery Board?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No

City of Portsmouth

Casino Gaming
Shall casino gaming be permitted at a casino gaming establishment in Portsmouth, Virginia located at 3606 Victory
Boulevard and surrounding undeveloped properties called the “Entertainment District” located east of Victory Boulevard,
south of Interstate 264, west of McLean Street and north of Greenwood Drive as may be approved by the Virginia Lottery
Board?
[]Yes
[]No


NORTH CAROLINA VOTER INFORMATION

  • When? Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3.
  • Where? You can find your polling place on the NC State Board of Elections.
  • Do I need an excuse or special circumstance to vote by mail? No. Any registered voter in North Carolina may vote an absentee ballot by mail.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

When is the deadline to register to vote in November?

Deadline to register to vote or update an existing registration.The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 25 days before the election.
Where can I register to vote?Online, or at your local DMV office
Do I register by political party?Voter registration applicants may choose one of 5 political parties (Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian and Republican) when completing a voter registration application. If they do not register with a political party, the voter will be designated as unaffiliated. In a general election, voters may vote for the candidate(s) of their choice, regardless of party affiliation. 
If I have been convicted of a felony, can I vote?To register to vote in North Carolina, you may not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction. Once an individual has completed a felony sentence or been pardoned, he/she is eligible to register and vote.
Can I vote without a photo ID?YES. Voters in North Carolina are NOT required to show photo ID. The law was enacted on Dec. 31, 2019.

North Carolina Absentee Voting

The North Carolina State Board of Election says it has improved its absentee ballot request process, with a new form, which you can access at this link.

WHO’S ON THE BALLOT IN NORTH CAROLINA?

Click on an image to visit a candidate’s website.

Governor

Al Pisano is running for Governor of North Carolina.
Dan Forest is running for Governor of North Carolina.
Roy Cooper is running for Governor of North Carolina.
Steven DiFiore is running for Governor of North Carolina.

U.S. House of Representatives – District 1

G.K. Butterfield is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District.
Sandy Smith is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District.

U.S. House of Representatives – District 3

Daryl Farrow is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd District.
Greg Murphy is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd District.

U.S. Senate

Cal Cunningham is running for the U.S. Senate.
Kevin Hayes is running for U.S. Senate.
Shannon Bray is running for U.S. Senate.

Thom Tillis is running for U.S. Senate.

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