The final hours voting guide: What day-of Virginia voters need to know

Feature+image+via+DCist

Feature image via DCist

Helen Ehrlich, Editor-In-Chief

As the end of the United State’s historic presidential race draws to a close, after Virginia’s record-setting early and mail-in voting period, here’s everything voters need to know when hitting the polls on November 3rd.

How To Vote

Polling Location & Registration: U.S. citizens over the age of 18 who are registered to vote and have not been previously convicted of a felony can vote in this election. Look up whether you are registered to vote here. There is no same-day registration in Virginia, unlike in neighboring areas—Maryland and Washington DC. Voters who are registered to vote and have not voted by mail can find their polling place  here. While it is best to go to your assigned polling place, voters are legally entitled to a provisional ballot, even if they aren’t in that location’s pollbook.

Polls open at 6:00 AM and close at 7:00 PM If you are in line when polls close, you still are legally allowed to vote, and should stay in line. If you are turned away, contact 

 

Voters must wear masks and should prepare to stand in long outdoor lines.

 

Ballots: Virginia uses paper ballots, filled out by hand. Ballot-marking devices and systems (BMDs) can be used by voters with disabilities. Request a new ballot if you make a mistake when filling yours out.

 

Mail-In/Absentee Ballots: Election day (November 3)is the deadline for ballots to be returned to a Registrar’s Office. 

 

If you requested an absentee ballot and still have it, do not mail it. Fill it out and seal it in all of the envelopes provided. Take this ballot and drop it off at your assigned polling place on Election Day. 

 

If you requested an absentee ballot and you have decided to vote in-person, bring your unopened ballot with you to your polling place when you go to vote. If you have lost or did not receive your ballot, you may either vote early in person at your registrar’s office or cast a provisional ballot at your polling place on Election Day.

 

If you requested a mail-in ballot but it did not arrive, check your ballot’s status here. You can cast a provisional ballot at your polling place on Election Day (This also applies if you lost your ballot.)

With Early Voting Underway in Virginia, Election 2020 Brings More Planning and More Cost | WVTF
Voters line up at the Fairfax County Government Center – Image via AP Photo, Andrew Harnik, WVTF

Drop Off Sites: You can deposit your ballots at one of 14 sites in Fairfax County. Some of the closest satellite locations to South Lakes High School include North County Governmental Center and Herndon Fortnightly Library. Check the listing here.

 

Identification: New legislation passed in April now makes it easier for Virginians to vote. Photo identification is not required in Virginia. Voters who do not present photo ID must instead sign a document affirming their identity, and then they may cast a regular ballot.

 

 

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Except for first time voters covered by HAVA, any voter who does not show one of the forms of ID specified shall be allowed to vote a regular ballot after signing a statement under penalty of perjury verifying their identity. A voter who does not show ID or sign a statement shall be offered a provisional ballot.”

 

This means voters can sign a document and vote if they do not have identification. Voters who do not bring ID or sign the document must instead cast a provisional ballot. Voters who do this must submit a copy of one of these valid forms of ID to the state by 12:00 PM November 6, 2020 (the Friday after election day). 

 

Approved forms of identification include: Voter confirmation documents; Virginia driver’s license; Virginia DMV-issued photo ID; United States passport;Employer-issued photo I; Student ID issued by any community college or university located in the United States; Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued photo ID; Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID; Virginia Voter Photo ID card;A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document containing the name and address of the voter.

 

Election Protection Hotline:

  • English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683
  • Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682
  • Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287
  • Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683

 

What’s On the ballot

President & Vice President

There are three candidates for president on the ballot in Virginia. Virginia has 13 electoral votes, and is a winner-take-all state (meaning all 13 delegates are granted to the majority winner in the state, not distributed based on the number of votes). Legislation passed in Virginia’s House to give votes to the popular vote winner, but when the bill reached Virginia’s Senate it was referred to a committee that pushed it to a 2021 session, blocking Virginia from becoming part of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden is polling 11 points ahead of President Trump. Virginia is no longer a battleground state, which has meant fewer visits after the primary season. Biden did receive a great deal of donations from Northern Virginia and inner-beltway fundraisers during the general and primary election.

Mr. Trump lost Virginia in 2016, and after a blue wave and rush of Democrats in the state, Virginia is primarily seen as a blue state. However, most areas of the state remained red in 2016 and during down ballot races, a sign of the high Conservatism but low populations in Southern Virginia

Libertarian Jo Jorgensen polls nationally at about 1.8%, but is on the ballot in Virginia. Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is not on the  ballot.

Mr. Biden is predicted to be the likely winner of Virginia.

Republican: Incumbent President Donald Trump and his running mate is Vice President Mike Pence. 

Democrat: Former Vice President Joe Biden and running mate Senator Kamala Harris. 

Libertarian: Jo Jorgensen and her running mate Spike Cohen.

 

 

U.S. Senate

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, Virginia’s former governor, is seeking a third term in office against Republican candidate and veteran Daniel Gade, who has no political experience. Gade has slammed Warner for being a career politician, while Warner has touted his work on COVID relief bills and record of long service to Virginia.

Virginia early voting underway in the 2020 general election - Roll Call
Senator Warner votes on the first day of early voting – Image via Roll Call

Gade and Warner oppose each other on almost every major policy point: Mr. Warner believes in human-caused climate change, Mr. Gade denies it. Mr. Warner  does not support the Trump administration’s COVID response, Mr. Gade blames China. Mr. Warner supports increasing water and environmental protections, Mr. Gade is a strong proponent of deregulation. Gun control, education, immigration, abortion rights and LGBTQ+ rights are all divisive issues where Mr. Warner stands to the left and Mr. Gade takes hard-right views.

Mr. Warner is predicted to win Virginia

Democrat: Mark Warner (Incumbent).

Republican: Daniel Gade.

 

U.S. House

All House from Virginia are up for election or reelection. Voters in the South Lakes area will cast ballots for Virginia’s eleventh district.

Representative Connolly faced a primary challenger for the first time since 2008 (read more here). Connolly has served six terms in office for one of Virginia and the nations’ most liberal districts. His opponent Manga Anantatmula takes a strongly rightwing stance on all issues – including abortion rights, national security and policing. Ms. Anantatmula has no political experience outside of a familial history, though she worked with the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.

 

Democrat: Gerald Connolly (Incumbent) 

Republican: Manga Anantatmula  

 

Virginia Dems Want Voters To Nix Redistricing Reform | WAMU
Volunteers in in Alexandria volunteer to stop Amendment 1 – Image via WAMU

Amendments

There are two proposed amendments to Virginia’s Constitution. Amendment One has drawn great debate and controversy, especially with Virginia’s history with gerrymandering. The proposed amendment is not the fully independent commission that activists demanded, as districts still require representative approval. Virginia’s Democratic Party officially opposes it, and partisan lines have been drawn on the issue in the statehouse.

Amendment One: Should Virginia devise a commission “of eight members of the General Assembly and eight citizens of the Commonwealth” to redraw state districts. These districts will then have to be approved by the state General Assembly. The Supreme Court of Virginia will have to make the final ruling if the General Assembly cannot make a decision by selected deadlines.  (Summarized.)

Amendment Two: Should veterans with “service-connected” disabilities be exempt from any form of state automobile tax? (Summarized.)

 

Fairfax County Bonds

There are four bond questions on the ballot.   

Public Library: Should Fairfax County borrow money and issue bonds to assume a maximum debt of $90,000,000 in order to support the Fairfax County Public Libraries? (Summarized.)

Parks: Should Fairfax County borrow money and issue bonds to assume a maximum debt of $112,000,000 to go towards park facilities? (Summarized.)

Transportation: Should Fairfax County borrow money and issue bonds to assume a maximum debt of $160,000,000 to go towards financing Fairfax’s shares of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Compact and other transportation needs? (Summarized.)

Health and Human Services: Should Fairfax County borrow money and issue bonds to assume a maximum debt of $79,000,000 to go towards improving existing and building new health services?

 

Herndon’s Election

Herndon voters will choose the town’s next mayor and Herndon Town Council members. 

The mayoral race is a nonpartisan election. Sheila Olem is currently Herndon’s Vice Mayor. Roland Taylor is a former police officer and has a background in government work, but not in elected office.

Herndon Election: Coronavirus Impact A Top Issue | Herndon, VA Patch
Voters in Herndon – Image via Patch

Mr. Taylor has taken more economic stances on issues, while Ms. Olem has emphasized her connection to the community and experience as a leader in it. Mr. Taylor is pushing for a removal of partisan lines, claiming that term limits should be mandatory for all town offices.

Notably, when asked if he supports Black Lives Matter movement Mr. Taylor said, “Equal and equitable opportunities for all to succeed should be looked at in all areas of government and communities.” Ms. Olem responded to this same question, “I am incredibly happy to live in a town where Black Lives Do Matter…And yes I do support BLM.”

Herndon’s town council elections are between the following candidates: Cesar del Aguila, Naila Alam, Pradip Dhakal, Signe V. Friedrichs, Clark Hedrick,  Stevan Porter, Sean Regan and Jasbinder Singh.

These are nonpartisan races, but the Fairfax County Democratic Party has endorsed Sheila Olem for mayor. They have endorsed the following council candidates: Naila Alam, Cesar A. del Aguila, Pradip Dhakal, Signe V. Friedrichs, Sean Regan and Jasbinder Singh. These endorsements were appreciated by some community members, and disliked by others who cite a desire for bipartisan elections.