With 37 days until Virginia voters head to the polls, the stakes have never been higher in this important swing state.
“Any presidential election is going to be exciting and confusing,” said Chesapeake Registrar Al Spradlin.
Confusing, because of several new laws that went into effect over the past four years–like early voting. Many states have it but does Virginia?
“You hear it referred to as early voting, but there is no early voting in Virginia. The only thing is early absentee voting,” said Spradlin.
Spradlin says in-person absentee voting will be allowed at all local registrars offices at certain times and dates, but not everyone can do it.
“You have to have a specific reason to get an absentee ballot, you just can’t call up and say, ‘I don’t want to stand in line so send me an absentee ballot,’” said Spradlin.
Some examples are if you are traveling for work or vacation, if you are sick or disabled, or taking care of a sick family member.
Even those who work more than 11 hours during the time that polls are open can vote absentee early, in person.
Local elections officials have been trying to educate the public, but their main concern has been with the new voter ID laws.
“The biggest misunderstanding in this election is the ID law. Somewhere, someone said ‘You have to have photo ID to vote.’ That is totally wrong. In Virginia, there is no photo ID law.
Spradlin says on the day of the election, voters can bring anything from their last month’s electric or water bill, to their current paycheck stub, and even their Medicare card or concealed weapons permit.
He says the Virginia ID laws are some of the best in the country, trying to make it fair for everyone.
“Our main goal here is to make sure everybody entitled to vote has the opportunity to vote,” said Spradlin.
A couple of important dates to keep in mind:
October 15th is the last day to register to vote, or to make changes to your voter record.
October 30th is the last day to request an absentee ballot.
November 6th is Election Day, where you either vote in person, or turn in your absentee ballot.