Why’s it so hard to vote in Virginia?

Virginia once had the dubious distinction of being called the “second hardest state to vote in.” While it’s still harder to vote in Virginia than some other states, it is making significant progress.

Earlier this year, Virginia enacted new legislation that greatly expanded voter access. The new laws:

Despite these awesome, enfranchising new laws, voting in Virginia may still be difficult due to:

If you’ve already voted, woohoo! You’re a real dynamo for not letting these challenges deter you.

If you haven’t voted yet, you now know some of the difficulties you may face. Armed with Virginia voting knowledge, though, you can be prepared to vote like a total boss.

We want to help you make sure your ballot’s cast and counted. So, keep reading to find out all you need to know to vote in Virginia.


Before You Vote: Make Sure You’re Registered

Before you can request a ballot or vote, you need to be registered to vote. The address that you register with dictates what’s on your ballot and where you vote.


Go Vote!

You have a lot of options when it comes to how, when and where you can vote. We encourage you to vote early if you can, to avoid crowds and ensure your ballot’s received before the deadline.

Voting by Absentee/Mail-In Ballot

Voting by absentee or mail-in ballot is available to all Virginia voters; no excuse is needed.

  • The deadline for requesting an absentee/mail-in ballot has passed. If you didn’t request your ballot by October 23, you’ll need to vote in person, early or Election Day.
  • Read and follow the instructions for completing your ballot.
  • Your ballot can be returned to your local registrar’s office by mail or in person (registrar’s office, official ballot drop-box or at a polling station). Find your registrar’s office.
  • Your municipal clerk’s office must receive your ballot by 7pm on Election Day.
  • If returning your ballot by mail, the recommendation is to post it ASAP. It must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by the registrar by noon on November 6th.
  • If you’re a first-time voter who registered by mail, there may be applicable restrictions to you voting absentee by mail.

Early Voting In Person

Early in-person voting is open to all Virginia voters; no excuse or application is needed.

  • Early voting is open through October 31.
  • You’ll cast your vote at your registrar’s office or a satellite voting location
  • You’ll need to provide your name, address and an acceptable ID or sign an ID Confirmation Statement.

Election Day Voting In Person

We get it — voting in person at an official polling station on Election Day can be very exciting. The key to making the day a success is being prepared.

Voting in Person: COVID-19 Precautions

Voting IRL can be as safe as going to the grocery store. The key is to follow CDC guidelines for coronavirus prevention and good ol’ common sense. To recap, though, here are the highlights:

  • Before you go to the polls, screen yourself for any new symptoms of COVID-19. If you feel ill, do not go to the polling place! (You don’t want to chance getting others sick.) You should be able to find an alternate way to vote.
  • Observe social distancing. Try to keep at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
  • Minimize the number of surfaces you touch and the amount of time you’re touching them.
    • Bring your own pen.
    • Bring some cotton swabs. You can use them to push buttons on the voting machines (if your machine has buttons).
    • Consider wearing disposable gloves.
  • Bring your own hand sanitizer. Disinfect your hands when you enter and leave the polling place.
  • Wear a face covering. Make sure it’s over your nose and mouth. Some people also like to wear a face shield or other eye protection.

tl;dr

Virginia’s a state with a bad rep when it comes to voter access. Thankfully, sweeping voting reform laws were passed in July. So, hopefully you’ll find it much easier to vote this November.

It’s beyond important that your voice is heard by having your vote counted. Be sure to welcome in these new voter-friendly laws by taking advantage of them! To do so, make a voting plan. The info above for voting by absentee or in person (early or on Election Day) should help.

And, here are some quick links to more great resources:

Get your friends and family involved, too! Staying civically engaged can be simple and enjoyable. And, if you need some ideas on how to have a winning Election Day, check out these tips.

Let’s #IGNITEthevote together! The first step is preparing yourself to vote in your state.