RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Local elections officers say they’re being flooded with requests for absentee ballots — right in the middle of a pandemic.
Requests for vote by mail/absentee ballots have skyrocketed in 2020 compared to the general election in 2016. Now, Richmond elections workers tell 8News they’re making a concerted effort for people to stay safe while allowing locals more opportunity to vote early.
“In 2016, at this point, we have maybe about 500 absentee ballot applications, and that was pretty par for the course for most other presidential elections. This year, as of the day before yesterday, we had over 10,000 approved applications,” Richmond’s Registrar Kirk Showalter told 8News.
Meaning, on September 18, the first wave of absentee ballots will be sent in the mail to voters who requested them.
This year, Virginia’s General Assembly got rid of the requirement to give an excuse to vote absentee. Now any eligible voter can request it.
Showalter says every registered voter will be sent an absentee application around Labor Day, plus a newsletter with important deadlines, and information about turning ballots in, all while limiting person-to-person contact.
“We are going to, the Saturday and Monday before the election, set up a drive up and drop off site where you can literally drive up to our building and hand in your ballot, and it has to be your own ballot, you can’t drop off somebody else’s,” Showalter said.
- The drop-off site will be at the city’s new registrar’s office, located at 2134 W. Laburnum Avenue. City Hall will also accept absentee ballots.
- Two “satellite” sites reserved for absentee voting is under consideration by the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.
- Henrico County voters can submit absentee ballots at their East or West government centers.
- The Hanover County Registrar’s Office said absentee ballots can be dropped off at the Whickham building at 7496 County Complex Road, going on to note 5,285 absentee applications have already been received.
For anyone who does vote in-person on November 3, masks and distancing are expected.