Early voting in Virginia’s legislative elections has been underway for less than two weeks, and over 100,000 ballots have already been cast. Additionally, almost 300,000 already plan to vote by mail.
Early voting in the commonwealth is convenient and simple, but it was not always so, and Virginians are taking advantage of it for just the third year.
The ability to vote in the 45 days before Election Day has only been available for three years, and this is the first time voters have been able to cast these early ballots for members of the House of Delegates and the state Senate.
According to data provided by the Virginia Public Access Project, 114,612 voters cast early ballots between Sept. 22 and Oct. 3 – 68,806 in person and 45,806 by mail. Significant percentages of those votes have been cast in some of the commonwealth’s most competitive House and Senate districts in northern Virginia, the Richmond suburbs, and Hampton Roads.
How You Can Vote Early
In Virginia, “early voting” is a term that refers to what is technically absentee voting – either in-person or by mail.
You have several options to vote early:
Go by your local registrar/elections office and cast your vote in-person, much like you’d do at your regular polling place. You can do so during your office’s regular business hours—typically Monday through Friday from 8 or 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., but the days and times these offices are open vary by locality, so be sure to check with your county’s own office.
Some of Virginia’s larger counties have satellite voting locations available during this period, as well, where you can also vote in-person. You can check here to find out if yours is one of them—you might have one closer to you than your registrar office or the hours might be more convenient.
There are two main weekend voting options. On Saturday, Oct. 28, and Saturday, Nov. 4, voters statewide who want to vote early but can’t make it work during the week will be able to cast their ballots at their local voter registration office or a satellite voting location.
You can also vote from home through the mail with an absentee ballot. You can request one here, but be aware that you have to request one by Friday, Oct. 27. Mail-in ballots must arrive at your local registrar’s office by Election Day, so it’s always a good idea to send it back as early as possible.
Alternatively, you could request an absentee ballot, fill it out at home, and then drive it to your local registrar/elections office and drop it off yourself.
All in-person early/absentee ballots must be cast prior to Election Day, of course; the last day for in-person early voting in 2023 is Saturday, Nov. 4, by 5 p.m.
Important election deadlines:
- The deadline to register to vote or update your existing voter registration is Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. (Voters may register after this date, through Election Day, and vote using a provisional ballot).
- The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. The request must be received by your local voter registration office by 5 p.m.
- Early Saturday voting at your local voter registration office begins Oct. 28, 2023.
- The last day to vote early in-person is Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, by 5 p.m.
- The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. through 7 p.m.
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