Absentee voting begins in Virginia September 19

On Friday, September 19th, in person absentee voting begins across Virginia.   If you are not going to be able to vote in your precinct on Election Day, then you can cast an absentee ballot.

Charles Garrett is the General Registrar for Bath County.

“We have an election coming up in November for one of our senators, our local congressman, a constitutional amendment and in Cedar Creek, here in Bath County, an unexpired term for school board,” says Garrett  “You have two choices when voting absentee.  There’s one that’s called absentee in person and that’s where you come into this office here in the courthouse and you’ll fill out a little form and we’ll actually hand you a ballot for this election.  And you vote and feed it in the machine and you’re done.”

You can also cast an absentee ballot by mail.  First you submit an application to have a ballot mailed to you.  You fill out the ballot and then mail it back to the registrar’s office.   It must be received in the registrar’s office at least a week before the election.

In order to vote absentee, you have to have a qualifying reason why you can’t vote in person on Election Day.

“Most common ones are people who work out of the county, maybe they work during the week, you know, they leave before the polls open, they don’t get back until the polls close,” says Garrett.  “If you’re disabled and not able to get out for any reason, or if you’re temporarily disabled.  If you’re the caretaker for someone who is disabled and you can’t get away.  Active emergency services and police who will be on duty Election Day qualify to vote absentee, if you’re going to be on vacation on Election Day.  In general, if you’re going to be out of the county or you’re going to be detained at work, or something like that, while the polls are open, then you can vote absentee.”

Garrett also wants to remind everyone that the ID law for elections has changed in Virginia.

“The only acceptable ID in Virginia now has to be a photo ID and the most common one is a driver’s license,” says Garrett.   “If you don’t have a photo ID and you plan to vote in person, either absentee or at the polls, then you need a photo ID.  And if you don’t have one, we can provide you one here in the office at no charge. If you are voting absentee by mail, you don’t need the photo ID.  You sign an affidavit when you submit your ballot and that’s sufficient.”

And be sure you’re registered to vote.  October 14 is the deadline to register.  And if you have a change of address that’s necessary before the election, that also must be in the registrar’s office by 5pm on October 14.

You can go online to register to vote, check your registration or make changes at the Department of Elections website.

You can also take care of those things, or get more information on absentee voting, by calling the Bath County Registrar’s office at 839-7266.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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