RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)- Friday was the first day of early voting in a pivotal presidential election and Virginians have never had more ways to cast their ballot. Here are your options this fall:
Vote early, in-person
For the first time, Virginians don’t need an excuse to vote absentee. That means anyone can vote between now and October 31st in-person at your local registrar’s office.
Poll workers are taking precautionary measures, including social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing. Voters are being asked to stand on markers that are six feet apart while they wait.
Make sure you bring a valid ID, including a Virginia driver’s license, U.S passport or student photo ID.
Vote by mail
Virginians have until October 23rd to request an absentee ballot by mail. You can do so online or by calling your local registrar.
Those who have already requested a ballot may not have received it yet because they were sent out on Friday statewide.
Under a new law just signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, the state will be providing pre-paid postage.
Voters do not need a witness to sign off on their ballot for it to be counted — a requirement that was waived to protect the most vulnerable during the pandemic.
You also can track your ballot’s status online.
Vote by drop box
If you’re still nervous about putting your ballot in the mail–for the first time–Virginians can skip the line and hand deliver their ballots to drop boxes that will be placed in every precinct ahead of Election Day.
Since the General Assembly just authorized this option, most localities are still implementing the new regulations outlined by the Virginia Department of Elections.
For example, Henrico County is keeping theirs inside until late next week when 24-hour surveillance will be installed to monitor the drop box outside. The footage has to be maintained until 30 days after the election, officials say.
Vote on Election Day
The General Assembly recently passed a law to make Election Day a state holiday in Virginia.
If you plan to vote the old-fashioned way on November 3rd, officials are asking people to be patient as poll workers implement safety protocols in an unprecedented election season.