Here’s How To Make Sure Your 2020 Ballot Gets Counted In Virginia

Have no fear! The Commonwealth has a number of new laws and procedures on the books, some passed as recently as last month, that ensure unimpeded access to voting and all votes get counted.

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Oh, the horror stories of delayed mail deliveries, the Postmaster General’s plan for the U.S. Postal Service and Trump’s repeated comments deriding voting by mail! They are worrisome for those voting whether in person or from home — and there’s likely to be many of you. Amidst the uncertainty, fear and doubt, you’re concerned that your ballot might not be counted.

Have no fear! The Commonwealth has a number of new laws and procedures on the books, some passed as recently as last month, that ensure unimpeded access to voting and all votes get counted.

In Virginia, any voter may request a ballot by mail, and you don’t need a reason to request one. You can also vote in person, before the election or on November 3.

But first things first: your online resource for all things boring is the Virginia Department of Elections web site. Here you can make check your registration. If you’re not registered, you can do so online. You can also find your polling place and local registrars office. All of the information presented below can found here as well.

Bookmark it. Carry on.

    • REQUEST A BALLOT BE MAILED TO YOU. There are three ways to request your mail-in or absentee ballot:
        • Complete the online request form. It’s easy, and you can do it right now. If you submit your ballot application online, you should receive yours by September 18, if not before.
        • You can also download the online application PDF, print, and complete.
        • Finally, you can apply in person at or call your local election office.
        • The deadline to request a ballot by mail is Friday, October 23, 2020. The local election official must receive your request by 5:00 p.m. The deadline is Saturday, October 31, 2020 to apply in person for an absentee ballot. You must compete your application at the General Registrar’s office. You should request your ballot as far in advance of the election as possible.
        • If you mail in your ballot, you will be able to track it as it moves through the mail system using a barcode provided in the envelope your ballot arrives in. Check your ballot’s progress on the state’s citizen portal.
    • VOTE IN PERSON. Voters registered in Virginia can look up where to vote on Virginia’s site. Polls are open on November 3 from 6 am until 7 pm.
    • VOTE EARLY. You can vote early at your local registrar’s office beginning 45 days before Election Day (September 18) and ending on October 31. Before visiting your local registrar’s office, you may wish to check your registration status or call your registrar’s office. You can find your registrar’s phone number here.
    • To vote early in-person or at the polls, do the following:
      • At the registrar’s office or satellite voting location, you must provide your name and address and show an acceptable form of ID or sign an ID Confirmation Statement. To view a complete list of acceptable IDs, please visit our Voting In-Person page.
      • If acceptable identification is not provided, you must sign an ID Confirmation Statement or a provisional ballot will be offered and you are allowed until the Friday at noon following the election to provide a copy of acceptable identification to the electoral board or sign an ID Confirmation Statement. Provisional voters receive a notice to remind them of the deadline and right to attend the electoral board meeting.

Finally, be meticulous in filling out your ballot.

While there’s not much data to suggest a significant number of ballots are getting lost in the mail, there is evidence that thousands of ballots were not counted due to voter errors, namely clerical mistakes or tardiness.

In the 2020 presidential primaries, Virginia had more rejected ballots than any other state, with almost 4,000 votes getting disqualified because they were mailed in past the deadline. The Postal Service recommends mailing in your ballot no later than one week before the election to ensure it is counted.

Besides tardiness, other mistakes like mismatched or missing signatures can also lead to a vote not being counted.

Census 2020