New measures underway to prevent absentee ballot backlog in Virginia election

Virginia Elections

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The polls open in Virginia at 6 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 7 p.m.  Anyone in line by 7 p.m., will get to cast their ballot.

Meantime, 1.1 million voters in Virginia have voted early. Nearly 300,000 voted absentee by mail and there’s still more than 100,000 possible mail-in ballots.

“That’s now become a regular, really important part of the voting process,” said Rich Meagher, 8News political analyst and professor of political science at Randolph Macon College. 

Meagher tells 8News the General Assembly of Virginia has recognized the growing number of absentee ballots and the noted delays that absentee ballots caused in the presidential election last year.

So, this year lawmakers have taken steps to counter a potential backlog of absentee ballots and get those results in earlier.

Local registrars are allowed to pre-process mail-in ballots seven days before election day.

“It means they can open them they verify that the proper signature is there, that it’s filled out properly, they can smooth out wrinkles. They can line it all up and in some cases, feed it through the counting machine. They just can’t report the results until the polls close,” Meagher said.

It is important to note, any ballot postmarked by Election Day and arriving by Friday will still be counted.

If you’re heading to the polls tomorrow and run into a snag, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is there to help.

“We’ve gotten almost 700 calls in the last 30 days,” said Ryan Snow.  Snow is an associate counsel with the group.

He said with the calls they have had so far, they haven’t seen any systemic issues.  It’s been mostly questions about polling location and checking voter registration.

Still, the group does have a voter hotline and it will be staffed from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. election day should you have a problem trying to cast your vote. The numbers to call are:

866-OUR-VOTE (English)

  • Nov. 2 hours: 6 a.m. -11 p.m.

888-VE-Y-VOTA (Spanish)

  • Nov. 2 hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

888-API-VOTE (Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, Urdu, Vietnamese)

  • Nov 2 hours: 6 a.m. – 11 p.m.

844-YALLA-US (Arabic)

  • Nov 2 hours: 6 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Snow said, “It’s a non-partisan non-profit voter assistance program so any issue you report we have volunteers, legal volunteers, lawyers and others who are taking calls.”

Meagher said poll workers at your polling site should be your first contact for help.

Snow emphasizes voters are entitled to cast a provisional ballot if for whatever reason you are not able to be offered an official ballot.

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