Voting in Virginia

Voting in Virginia 1

Summary

Federal elections on the ballot: President, US Senator, and 11 US House members

Ballot measures: Redistricting Amendment

The State Board of Elections administers elections and campaign finance laws, including the preparation of ballots and implementation of state and federal election laws (such as the Help America Vote Act).

>  The Virginia onAir Hub is currently focusing on this year’s US Senate and House races. After the federal elections are concluded, Virginia onAir will focus on governance.

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About

Source: Wikipedia

All voters are encouraged to vote mail ballots. Virginia law requires a reason to vote absentee, however, state officials have determined that COVID-19 is a valid reason for everyone to vote absentee, even if they are not ill. All voters are encouraged to apply online for their absentee ballot and to use reason 2A on the form (2A covers disability or illness and does not require documentation

ALERT: Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), the May 5th election has been moved to May 19th and the June 9th Primary election has been moved to June 23. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the May 19th election is May 12th.

Contact

Email: VA Board of Elections

Locations

VA Board of Elections
Washington Building, First Floor
1100 Bank Street, Richmond 23219
Phone: (800) 552-9745

Web

Government website, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook

Videos

Voter Registration Video

Registering to Vote

General Information

Who can register

To register in Virginia you must:

  • be a citizen of the United States;
  • be a resident of Virginia and of the precinct in which you want to vote;
  • be 18 years old by the next general election;
  • not have been convicted of a felony, or have had your civil rights restored; and
  • not currently be declared incapacitated by a court.

How to register

  1. Use our Register to Vote form below to fill out the National Voter Registration Form.
  2. Sign and date your form. This is very important!
  3. Mail or hand-deliver your completed form to the address we provide.
  4. Make sure you register before the voter registration deadline.

Election Day registration
N/A

Voting Rights restoration

If you have been convicted of a felony and have questions about whether you can register to vote, visit Restore Your Vote to determine your eligibility.

Registration status

Registration form


Voting

General Information

Voting as a Student

Learn more from Campus Vote Project about voting for students.

Overseas and Military Voting

You are a Military or Overseas voter if you are in uniformed services, living overseas OR a spouse or dependent of a uniformed services voter. To get registered and vote, you can utilize Overseas Vote Foundation.

If you have additional questions about elections and voting overseas you can use our state specific elections official directory or contact the Overseas Vote Foundation.

Voting with Disabilities

Any person, regardless disability status, has the right to register to vote at any office or agency that provides such a service. These offices include but are not limited to: Department of Health (VDH), Department of Social Services (DSS), Department of Mental Health (DMHRSAR), Department for Rehabilitation Services (DRS), Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH), and the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).

Your local registrar’s office also has registration forms and should be able to accommodate any special needs. In addition, you can download a voter registration form from the state board of elections website.

  • Curbside voting is still available for people ages 65 and older, or any person with a disability. With the implementation of HAVA (Help America Vote Act), curbside voters may now be able to vote on an electronic voting device in lieu of a paper ballot. However, some cities continue to use paper ballots. To vote curbside you must ask your driver or other individual to inform the election officers that there is a person that wishes to vote curbside. The necessary equipment will then be brought to you in your vehicle. You shall be afforded every opportunity to vote in a private and independent fashion, but voting equipment must remain in the view of the election officers.
  • You have the right to have an election officer or other person help you vote if you are physically disabled, unable to read or unable to write. Blind voters may also have any person assist them.
  • You may have anyone who is not your employer or union representative assist you. The officer of election or other person so designated who helps you prepare your ballot shall do so in accordance with your instructions, without soliciting your vote or in any manner attempting to influence your vote, and shall not in any manner divulge or indicate, by signs or otherwise, how you voted on any office or question. For individuals with vision impairments the state board of elections works to provide large print copies of all voting related material. Your local registrar’s office should have large print versions of all materials in circulation at this time.
  • In accordance with the Help America Vote Act, Virginia is in the process of making all of its polling places fully accessible to elderly voters and voters with disabilities. If you find that your polling place is not accessible for any reason please fill out the voter accessibility feedback form. The state board of elections is dedicated to providing the best voting experience possible, and will value your input and will keep any remarks confidential.
  • In accordance with the Help America Vote Act, every polling location in Virginia must be equipped with at least one accessible voting system that will allow all voters with a disability to vote in the same private and independent manner as a voter without a disability. If you require voting assistance due to a physical disability or inability to read or write, you can receive it upon request. Any of the election officers can advise you of your rights in this area. If you have cognitive disabilities, due to any reason, you can be eligible to vote if you are not currently ruled to be mentally incompetent by a court of law.

For more information, you can utilize the American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD) resource.

Early Voting

For more information on times and locations please contact your local registrar.

To qualify for absentee in-person voting you must be:

  • Any person who, in the regular and orderly course of his business, profession, or occupation or while on personal business or vacation, will be absent from the county or city in which he is entitled to vote;
  • Any person who is (i) a member of a uniformed service of the United States, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 1973ff-6(7), on active duty, or (ii) a member of the merchant marine of the United States, or (iii) who temporarily resides outside of the United States, or (iv) the spouse or dependent residing with any person listed in (i), (ii), or (iii), and who will be absent on the day of the election from the county or city in which he is entitled to vote. See Absentee Voting Procedures for Overseas Personnel (Military & Non-Military)
  • Any student attending a school or institution of learning, or his spouse, who will be absent on the day of election from the county or city in which he is entitled to vote;
  • Any person who is unable to go in person to the polls on the day of election because of a disability, illness or pregnancy ;
  • Any person who is confined while awaiting trial or for having been convicted of a misdemeanor, provided that the trial or release date is scheduled on or after the third day preceding the election. Any person who is awaiting trial and is a resident of the county or city where he is confined shall, on his request, be taken to the polls to vote on election day if his trial date is postponed and he did not have an opportunity to vote absentee;
  • Any person who is a member of an electoral board, registrar, officer of election, or custodian of voting equipment;
  • Any person serving as a designated representative of a political party, independent candidate or candidate in a political party;
  • Any duly registered person who is unable to go in person to the polls on the day of the election because he is primarily and personally responsible for the care of an ill or disabled family member who is confined at home.
  • Any duly registered person who is unable to go in person to the polls on the day of the election because of an obligation occasioned by his religion.
  • Any person who, in the regular and orderly course of his business, profession, or occupation, will be at his place of work and commuting to and from his home to his place of work for eleven or more hours of the thirteen that the polls are open (6:00 AM to 7:00 PM).
  • Certain first responders who meet code definitions for law-enforcement officers, firefighters, search and rescue personnel and emergency medical services personnel.
  • Any registered and qualified voter may request a mail ballot for presidential and vice-presidential electors only by writing across the top of their absentee application “request ballot for presidential electors only.” A voter who votes a “presidential only” ballot may not later decide to vote the rest of the ballot. The same procedures and deadlines apply as for other absentee applications and ballots. Please note: When completing your absentee ballot application, reason 7A should only be used by voters who have moved to another state (away from Virginia) less than 30 days before the presidential election. This reason code should not be selected by voters that do not intend to move to another state less than 30 days prior to the election.

The electoral board will usually make ballots available for absentee voting 45 days prior to Election Day and ending 3 days before Election Day.

Vote by Mail (Absentee)

Absentee ballot process

Absentee voting is available and no excuse is required. The last day to request an absentee ballot is 11 days before the election (October 23rd, 2020). You can return your absentee ballot request form through mail, in person at your local elections office, or online. Voted ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received by 12pm 3 days after the election in order to be counted.

ALERT: Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), voters mailing absentee ballots for the November General Election do NOT need a witness. Please contact the Board of Elections for more information.

You may now request an absentee ballot online! Just fill out and submit this form before the deadline (5pm 11 days before the election).

All voters are eligible for absentee voting either in-person or by mail for 45 days before the election. You can request your absentee ballot at any time during the year.

Voted mail ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and be received by your local registrar by noon on the third day after the election in order to be counted.

You can check the status of your absentee ballot with the Absentee Ballot Status Look Up tool.

As a reminder, first time voters who registered through the mail may vote absentee, but you must mail a copy of one of the below forms of ID with your absentee ballot:

  • Valid photo ID
  • Current utility bill
  • Other government document that confirms name and address

Emergency Absentee Voting

You can apply for an emergency absentee ballot if you:

  • Are hospitalized or have an illness
  • You are dealing with a hospitalization, illness or death of a spouse, child or parent
  • Have another emergency found to justify an emergency absentee ballot

If you meet these requirements, you can have a designated representative request an absentee ballot through the day before the election. You must complete the application and deliver it to the local registrar’s office by 2pm the day before the election. Voted ballots must be returned before the polls close on Election Day.

How to get Absentee ballot

  1. Use our Absentee Ballot Form below to prepare your application.
  2. Sign and date the form. This is very important!
  3. Return your completed application to your Local Election Office as soon as possible. We’ll provide the mailing address for you.
  4. All Local Election Offices will accept mailed or hand-delivered forms. If it’s close to the deadline, call and see if your Local Election Office will let you fax or email the application.
  5. Make sure your application is received by the deadline. Your application must actually arrive by this time — simply being postmarked by the deadline is insufficient.
  6. Please contact your Local Election Office if you have any further questions about the exact process.

What to do next

  1. Once you receive the ballot, carefully read and follow the instructions.
  2. Sign and date where indicated.
  3. Mail your voted ballot back to the address indicated on the return envelope.
  4. Your voted ballot must arrive by the deadline or it will not be counted.

Absentee ballot application deadline

  • In Person: 3 days before Election Day.
  • By Mail: 7 days before Election Day.
  • Online: 7 days before Election Day.

Absentee ballot submission deadline

Election Day

 

Absentee Ballot (form)

Elections Alert (Form)

Pollling Information

Polling Place Locator

You can find your polling place by utilizing your state resource.

If you have further questions on your polling place location, please contact your local election office.

Polling Place Hours

Polls are open from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Poll Worker Information

Visit www.workelections.com to find localized information for becoming a poll worker in your area.

In order to be a poll worker in Virginia:

  • You must be registered to vote in Virginia
  • You will be entitled to compensation
  • You must be at least 18 years of age
  • Political affiliation generally required
  • You must complete required training.
  • Must be a US citizen
  • You cannot hold an elected office or be the employee of an elected official
  • You must be able to speak, read and write English

To sign up, contact your local board of elections.

State Board of Elections

The State Board of Elections is authorized to supervise, coordinate, and adopt regulations governing the work of local electoral boards, registrars, and officers of election; to provide electronic application for voter registration and delivery of absentee ballots to eligible military and overseas voters; to establish and maintain a statewide automated voter registration system to include procedures for ascertaining current addresses of registrants; to prescribe standard forms for registration, transfer and identification of voters; and to require cancellation of records for registrants no longer qualified. Code of VirginiaTitle 24.2, Chapters 14 and 4.1. The Department of Elections conducts the board’s administrative and programmatic operations and discharges the board’s duties consistent with delegated authority.

Commissioners

Christopher E. “Chris” Piper has been appointed as the Commissioner.

Commissioner, Virginia Department of Elections
Deputy Commissioner, Virginia Department of Elections

 

Litigation

Source: Wikipedia

The Virginia State Board of Elections has been a party in a number of lawsuits.

Sarvis v. Judd

In July 2014, The Rutherford Institute supported the Libertarian Party of Virginia and alleged Virginia ballot laws favored “the election chances of Democrat and Republican candidates at the expense of Libertarian Party and independent candidates.”

In Robert C. Sarvis, et al. v. Charles E. Judd, et al, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Libertarian Party of Virginia, several Libertarian Party candidates and an independent (non-party) candidate for public office in the November 2014 general election. The lawsuit challenged the Virginia State Board of Elections and the laws which require minor-party candidates to gather signatures on petitions to achieve ballot access as well as the laws which require minor-party and independent candidates’ names to be placed below those of major-party candidates on the ballot.

Libertarian Party of Virginia v. Judd

In 2013, the ACLU supported the Libertarian Party of Virginia, and contended that the Libertarians would suffer “irreparable harm” given Virginia’s ballot access laws.

In Libertarian Party of Virginia v. Judd, the Libertarian Party won the case regarding state residency requirements for petition circulators per the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on May 29, 2013. It was the first time a minor party had won a constitutional election law case in the Fourth Circuit since 1989 and 1988. In response to the Fourth Circuit’s ruling, the State of Virginia via former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as well as several other states, like Oklahoma, submitted petitions to the Supreme Court of the United States asking to reverse the Fourth Circuit’s decision. On December 2, 2013, the petitions against the Fourth Circuit’s ruling were denied by the Supreme Court, and so the Libertarian Party of Virginia won the case regarding state residency requirements for petition circulators.

Perry v. Judd

In January 2012, Texas Governor Rick Perry, former senator Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. failed to qualify for the ballot and sued the State Board of Elections. U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. denied the request to add their names to Virginia’s Republican primary ballot.

Project Vote v. Long

In February 2010, after receiving reports from local community partners regarding large numbers of rejected voter registration applications, Project Vote and its voting partner, Advancement Project, sought to review Norfolk’s rejected registration applications to ascertain if qualified persons were unlawfully kept off the voting rolls. Elisa Long, the general registrar of Norfolk, and Nancy Rodrigues, secretary of the State Board of Elections denied Project Vote and Advancement Project the right to review the records, and both groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia.

In July 2011, the Court granted Project Vote’s Motion for Summary Judgment and ordered the Norfolk County Registrar “to permit access to any requesting party for copy and/or inspection of voter registration applications and related records,” in compliance with public disclosure requirements under the National Voter Registration Act.

Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections

In Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966) the U.S. Supreme Court found that Virginia’s poll tax was unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The 24th Amendment (1964) prohibited poll taxes in federal elections. However, five states continued to impose a poll tax for voters in state elections. By this ruling, the Supreme Court banned the use of a poll tax in state elections.

Ballot access

Source: Wikipedia

Virginia has one of the most restrictive set of ballot access laws in the United States. According to the Code of Virginia subsection 24.2-101, without “major party” status for automatic ballot access in Virginia, minor party and independent candidates have to gather petition signatures to get on the ballot. For example, the requirement for statewide elections is 10,000 signatures, including at least 400 from each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts. In order for a minor party to gain automatic ballot access as a major party, one of its nominated candidates must receive 10% of the vote in a statewide race. To obtain the signatures necessary to receive statewide ballot access in Virginia, it has been quoted to cost between $45,000 to $90,000 or up to $100,000.

How to run for office

Source: Board of Elections

These qualifications and requirements may vary slightly depending on whether the office sought is a local office, a general assembly seat, a statewide office, or a federal office. Generally, all candidates must meet the following minimum qualifications:

  • Be qualified to vote for and hold the office sought, and
  • Be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia for one year immediately preceding the election.

The board has developed and published candidate informational bulletins specific to each office type. In addition to the qualifications, forms and filing requirements, candidate information bulletins provide candidates with information he/she will need to run for office.

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