Virginia’s voter registration deadline has passed, but if you missed it and still want to cast your ballot in this year’s elections, you can still do so.
As of last year, Virginia allows “same-day voter registration,” which means that eligible voters can still register and cast their ballots simultaneously through Election Day.
Through this process, voters will cast a provisional ballot—but don’t let the name scare you off, since as long as you’re eligible, it’ll count. After a provisional ballot is cast, the local registrar’s office will research whether the voter who cast that ballot is indeed eligible to vote in that locality.
If the voter’s registration application is approved, the provisional ballot is then counted like a normal ballot. If for some reason the provisional ballot is not counted, the voter will be notified by the general registrar.
Under Virginia’s old election laws, which Democrats reformed when they briefly held legislative majorities in 2020 and 2021, voter rolls were frozen when the official voter registration period ended about three weeks before Election Day.
“This bill is meant to expand voting and make it easier,” Democratic Del. Marcus Simon, who co-sponsored the legislation, said of the change. “And to not penalize people who aren’t paying attention to an election three or four weeks out and may not realize that their registration may need to be updated.”
Despite the relative newness of this registration and voting method, it’s already been lauded as a “smooth and reassuring” process. In 2022, 25,353 Virginians statewide cast their ballots via same-day registration; of those, 96% were reviewed by local registrars and counted as legitimate votes.
During the first year of same-day registration, Virginia localities that are home to several of the state’s universities saw the highest usage of this voting method, including Williamsburg, Richmond, Harrisonburg, and Blacksburg.
While “general registrars noted that the increase in provisional ballots put pressure on operations both at polling locations and in general registrars’ offices,” according to a post-election report from the Virginia Department of Elections, a DOE post-election survey found that voters “had an overwhelmingly positive experience at the polls”; over 88% of respondents expressed confidence that their votes would be counted accurately.
The League of Women Voters (LWV) of Virginia declared that “same-day registration is an overall success” and pushed back against GOP-led attempts earlier this year to curtail or outright eliminate the practice.
In February, the Republican-controlled House passed a measure that could have discouraged same-day registration by requiring voters casting their ballots this way to sign a form reminding them that intentionally voting twice is a Class 6 felony, despite the fact that numerous voting documents already include warnings that voting twice is against the law. Adding a new form and warning “is both redundant and would intimidate voters,” said LWV Virginia president Deb Wake.
Republicans also attempted to repeal same-day voter registration in 2022; the bill passed the GOP House but was blocked by the state Senate.
“When Democrats held the majority in the House of Delegates, we expanded voter access and made it easier for every Virginian to exercise their right to vote. This includes ensuring that Virginia has same day registration so that more voters can make their voices heard,” House Democratic Leader Don Scott told Dogwood. “My message to every eligible Virginian is to get out and vote and to vote early. Your fundamental rights and freedoms depend on it.”
Virginia’s key 2023 voting deadlines:
- 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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