If you want to have a say in how lawmakers spend your hard-earned tax dollars, there’s a simple solution: Vote.
In order to vote, you’ve got to be registered. And if you haven’t registered to vote, the deadline to do so is Tuesday, Oct. 13.
Voting matters. This year, Virginians are deciding on a U.S. senator, congressional members and two constitutional amendments, in addition to local races and, of course, the hotly contested presidential election.
Virginia expanded its voting options this year, finally adopting no-excuse absentee balloting. The state also offers early, in-person voting. Additionally, voters can go to the polls on Election Day. Contact your local registrar’s office or visit the state Department of Elections website at www.elections.virginia.gov for more details.
So far, there have been more than a whopping 1.6 million early ballots cast and mail applications in the commonwealth — compared to just under 539,000 total absentee ballots in the 2016 election, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
The turnout so far puts Virginia — one of a handful of states to kick off balloting 45 days ahead of Election Day — well ahead of most states in early voting, according to an analysis by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, The Washington Post recently reported.
Localities across Virginia are reporting an unprecedented early turnout. “We’re probably looking at three times the rate for early voting that we saw in 2016,” Gary D. Scott, the head of the office of elections in Fairfax County, told The Post. In Fairfax, the state’s most populous county, election workers have taken in about 2,000 mail-in ballots per day while several hundred voters have lined up to cast their ballots inside the county government center since early voting began on Sept. 18.
Other key deadlines to remember are Oct. 23, the last day to request a to request a mailed ballot, and Oct. 31, the last day for early, in-person voting.
Some of us still enjoy the community atmosphere of voting at our local polling place on Election Day. Regardless of the method, exercise your constitutional right to vote this election season. If you want a voice, cast a ballot.
— Pamela Stallsmith