Virginia Votes: Dogwood’s Guide to The Commonwealth’s 2020 Election
By Brian Carlton
September 3, 2020

There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to mail-in voting, drop-off boxes and other parts of the 2020 election. We’d like to help clear that up.

Oct. 16, 2020

Don’t let someone else take your voice away. That’s what an election is, a chance for your voice to be heard. We can post on Facebook, send memes on Instagram or argue in public all day long, but none of that matters if we don’t cast a ballot. 

Here in Virginia, we have plenty of questions to answer. Beyond the federal races, some communities will decide what to do with Confederate monuments. Others will vote on casino gambling and a few will put redistricting or reversion up for discussion. In many ways, the choices we make this year will shape the commonwealth for decades to come. 

In a normal year, you’d just prepare to go to a polling place, cast a ballot and head home. But as we’ve already seen, 2020 is nowhere near normal. Some of you may be casting a ballot through the mail for the first time. Others may be first-time college students, staying in Harrisonburg or Radford even though classes went virtual last month. How do you vote? What’s the process like? That’s where we at the Dogwood come in. 

We’re going to be updating this Virginia Votes blog Monday through Friday, dropping in stories from Virginia voters, answering questions, posting reminders and sharing different updates related to the election. The goal here is to help you feel confident enough to go out and vote, while also trusting that your vote will be counted.

If you have questions about anything from absentee ballots to where you find an early voting spot, please let us know. You can email us at [email protected], send us a DM on Twitter or a message on Facebook.

Sept. 3, 2020

Working with other journalists from the Courier family, we’re putting together the information you need. Think of Courier’s Your Vote 2020 site as a one-stop shop where you can get all of your questions answered. As we said, this hasn’t been a normal year and voters will encounter multiple challenges, as well as some confusing ballots. We’ve already seen that in Virginia with the Kanye West candidacy and the fight over ballot drop-off boxes. The Vote 2020 site will help answer your questions and give you the information to make sure your vote is counted.

Are you voting by mail this year? We can help answer questions with stories like this one, sketching out every step in the process. We’re also here to clear up confusion. No, voter fraud is not widespread throughout Virginia. Also, no one party benefits from the mail-in voting process.

Beyond that, we take a look at other questions. If you’re a college student in Virginia, how do you vote? Let’s say you don’t want to wait until November to cast a ballot. Where and how can you vote early in Virginia? What do you need to bring for ID? We answer those questions too. And for those who want to take part as polling place volunteers, we explain exactly how you can make that happen.

you can also share what it’s like to take part in the election if you want. Is this the first time you’ve voted? Or maybe you’re volunteering at the polls for the first time. Send us a note and let us know what it’s been like at [email protected]. We’d love to hear your story. 

If you haven’t yet, you can still register online in Virginia and if you want to cast a vote in person, that starts on Sept. 18. Stay safe and we at the Dogwood will do our best to help you stay informed. 

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