KNOW YOUR VOTING RIGHTS

Voting is our right and our civic responsibility. Our democracy is stronger when everyone participates. Know your voting rights and make a plan to vote as early as possible. In the drop-down menu below, you will find information related to:

  • How to register to vote
  • How to request your absentee ballot to vote by mail
  • How to return your absentee ballot
  • How to vote absentee in person
  • How to vote on Election Day
  • Virginia's voter ID law
  • Restoration of voting rights
  • Volunteer to be a poll worker
  • Top questions asked by voters

Important voting deadlines

a graphic of important voting deadlines for the November election
 

1. Register to Vote

Q.Register to Vote
A.

Check to see if you’re registered before Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Either call your local registrar or the Department of Elections at 800-552-9745. You can also check online at elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation

2. Vote Absentee by Mail

Q.Vote Absentee by Mail
A.

Request your absentee ballot:

  • As of July 1, any registered voter can vote absentee for any reason starting on Sept. 18 (45 days before Election Day). 
  • To vote by mail, if you have a DMV-issued license or ID card, you can apply for an absentee ballot online by visiting the citizen portal at https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation
  • Using this same portal, you can check if your absentee application was received and whether your ballot was sent and received.
  • You can also download and complete the Vote by Mail Application Form at this link and return your completed and signed form to your local registrar’s office by mail, fax or email.
  • The application must be made by 5 p.m. on the 11th day before the election, Oct. 23, unless you are applying and voting in person (see below).

Return your absentee ballots

  • Once you get the ballot, fill it out completely and accurately and mail it to your local registrar. For example, if you fill in an address that is different than your voter registration address, your ballot will not count. 
  • Your vote will be counted as long as your returned ballot is received before noon on the third business day following the election (Nov. 6). Voters are encouraged to get their absentee applications and completed ballots in as early as possible.
  • You can also choose to hand-deliver your absentee ballot to your local registrar’s office any time before the polls close at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 3.
  • Ballot drop boxes may be available at your locality. Call your registrar's office for more information.
  • You won't need a witness signature to vote by mail in the Nov. 3 election if you can't safely get one, as a result of our lawsuit against the Virginia Board of Elections.

3. Vote Absentee in Person

Q.Vote Absentee in Person
A.
  • You can also vote absentee by going in person to the registrar’s office or a satellite voting location set up in your locality between Sept. 18 and Oct. 31 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Contact your registrar’s office to find out where you can go to vote in person before Election Day.
  • At the voting location, you must provide your name and address and show an acceptable form of ID or sign an ID Confirmation Statement. See more information below on Virginia’s Voter ID Laws.

4. Vote in Person on Election Day

Q.Vote in Person on Election Day
A.
  • First and foremost, check if your polling location is open or if there is an alternative location. You can check what polling places are open by visiting  https://www.elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal/.
  • Voters can wear campaign apparel when going to vote according to Va. Code §24.2-604(J). Poll workers cannot prevent you from wearing campaign apparel.
  • If your name isn’t on the poll book at your voting location as a registered voter, ask the poll worker to contact the local registrar. If they are not available or they can’t find your name, ask for a provisional ballot. You have the right to cast a provisional ballot even if your name is not on the voter list. However, know that your ballot may not be counted if the Board of Elections finds no record of your registration in the precinct where you cast your vote. (Va. Code §24.2-652-653)
  • If someone challenges your eligibility to vote, even if you’re on the list of registered voters, ask for and fill out an Affirmation of Eligibility form. You have the right to vote or at least cast a provisional ballot if you sign the form. (Va. Code §24.2-651)
  • If you need help using the voting equipment, ask a poll worker for help. Poll workers are required to assist you any time to ask. You can ask for help after entering the voting booth but should be allowed to vote privately once you receive help. (Va. Code §24.2-647)
  • If you make a mistake on a paper ballot or if the machine malfunctions, do NOT cast your ballot! Ask for a replacement ballot. You have the right to as many replacement ballots as you need (Va. Code §24.2-645). If a machine malfunctions, inform a poll worker and ask them to direct you to a different machine or give you a paper ballot. (Va. Code §24.2-642, §24.2-646.1)
  • Remember, if you are in line by 7:00 p.m. when the polls close, you have the right to vote. (Va. Code §24.2-603)

5. Virginia’s Voter ID Law

Q.Virginia’s Voter ID Law
A.
You no longer have to provide a photo ID in Virginia, but you must provide an approved form of identification.

Acceptable IDs include:

  • Voter registration card
  • Bank statement
  • Utility bill
  • Paycheck
  • Student ID
  • Any government document that shows your name and address
  • DMV-issued ID, passport, or driver's license

For a full list of acceptable IDs, visit: https://www.elections.virginia.gov/registration/photo-ids-required-to-vote/index.html


What if I Don't Have an ID?
If you don’t have an ID, go to your nearest voter registration office to get a free Voter Photo ID, even on Election Day!
You will be required to complete a Virginia Voter Photo Identification Card Application, have your photo taken, and sign a digital signature pad. The Virginia Voter Photo ID card is valid for voting purposes only. https://www.elections.virginia.gov/registration/photo-ids-required-to-vote/

What if I Forget my Form of ID?
If you forget your ID and you have time, it is usually better to go back and get it. Voters without identification must cast a provisional ballot. You must deliver a copy of your ID to your local electoral board no later than noon on Friday after the elections by fax, email, mail, or in person. You will be given instructions on what to do so your vote can count. (Va. Code §24.2-653) 

6. Restoration of Voting Rights

Q.Restoration of Voting Rights
A.
If you have lost your right to vote due to a felony conviction, in order to vote you must:
  • (a) receive a letter from the governor individually restoring your voting rights, then
  • (b) register to vote.
In order to vote in the Nov. 3 general elections, you must have your voting rights restored and registered to vote before Oct. 13. To check if your civil rights have been restored go to https://solutions.virginia.gov/RestorationOfRights or call (804) 692-0104.

7. Volunteer to be a poll worker

Q.Volunteer to be a poll worker
A.

In the 2018 general election, around six-in-ten U.S. poll workers (58%) were ages 61 and older, including roughly a quarter (27%) who were over 70, according to a Pew Research Center. Due to COVID-19, they are less likely to volunteer this year. That's why we need your help.

Lend a hand to our democracy and volunteer to be a poll worker today. Poll workers are essential. Help your neighbors and your communities vote. It's one of the most rewarding ways to celebrate Election Day as a state holiday in Virginia this year.

8. FAQs

Q.FAQs
A.
  • I have requested my absentee ballot to vote by mail but it never arrived. What are my options? You are entitled to a replacement ballot if you provide a sworn statement to your local registrar before Election Day. If you wait until Election Day, you may cast a provisional ballot, which may or may not be counted.

  • I have requested and received my absentee ballot to vote by mail, but now I want to vote in person. What are my options? You may vote in person if you return your unopened ballot to your local registrar's office, to a satellite voting location, or to your polling place on or before Election Day.

  • I accidentally damaged my ballot and make it unfit for voting. What are my options? You are entitled to a replacement absentee ballot if you return the damaged ballot to your local registrar’s office or to a satellite early voting location before Election Day. You may also vote in person if you return the damaged ballot to your local registrar’s office, to a satellite early voting location, or to your polling place on or before Election Day.

  • If I’m in line when the polls close, can I still vote? Yes! You have the right to vote if you are in line by 7 p.m. when the polls close. (Va. Code §24.2-603)
  • What if I need language assistance? You have the right to bring someone who can translate the ballot and help you communicate with poll workers. (Va. Code §24.2-649 (C))

  • Can I wear campaign apparel when going to vote? Yes! You are allowed to wear apparel, including shirts, hats, buttons or stickers that contain a candidate’s name or a political slogan when they go to the polls to vote. (Va. Code §24.2-604(J))
  • What if I need instructions on how to use the voting equipment? Ask a poll worker for help. Poll workers are required to assist you any time you ask. You can request help after entering the voting booth but should be allowed to vote privately after receiving help. (Va. Code §24.2-647)
  • What if I believe I am registered but a poll worker says I am not? Ask the poll worker to contact the local registrar. If the registrar is unavailable or cannot find your name, ask for a provisional ballot. You have the right to cast a provisional ballot even if your name is not on the voter list. However, know that your ballot may not be counted if the Board of Elections finds no record of your registration. (Va. Code §24.2-652-653)
  • How do I make a complaint? Ask for an officer of election at your polling place. The officer can handle most routine complaints. Candidates, political parties, and nonprofit groups may also have poll watchers at your polling place who may be able to assist you. You can also call the Virginia Department of Elections (800-552-9745). You can file a complaint online at elections.virginia.gov/voter-complaints.
  • What if someone challenges my eligibility to vote even though I am on the list of registered voters? Ask for the Affirmation of Eligibility form. You have the right to vote or at least cast a provisional ballot if you sign this form. (Va. Code §24.2-651)
  • What if I've moved since the last election? You should change your address online at elections.virginia.gov/registration/view-your-info, or send a letter to your local registrar before the election registration deadline. More information on the impact of moving can be found on the address change located at elections.virginia.gov/registration/view-your-info.
  • What should I do if I make a mistake on a paper ballot, or the machine malfunctions? Do NOT cast your ballot! Ask for a replacement ballot immediately. You have a right to as many replacement ballots as you need. (Va. Code §24.2-645). If your machine malfunctions, inform a poll worker who will direct you to a different machine or give you a paper ballot. (Va. Code §24.2-642, §24.2-646.1)
  • What if I need help in the voting booth because of a physical disability or I have trouble reading or writing? Ask a poll worker for a Request for Assistance form. You have the right to have a poll worker, friend or relative help you in the voting booth if you sign this form. (Va. Code §24.2-649 (B)). If you think it will be difficult to vote inside the polling place, you have the right to vote curbside. On Election Day, you can send someone into the polling place to request curbside voting on your behalf. Poll workers will bring a ballot or voting machine outside so you can vote. (Va. Code §24.2-649 (A))