NORTON — If you are a Virginia voter and cannot wait until Nov. 3 to get your “I Voted” sticker, you don’t have to wait.
Early voting starts Friday, and Norton General Registrar Marie Muir and her staff spent much of Wednesday preparing for that and for sending out the first round of requested absentee ballots to city voters.
Muir said her office, like all Virginia registrars’ offices, opens at 8:30 a.m. Friday to accommodate any registered state voters wanting to cast their ballots in the November local, congressional and presidential elections. Unlike earlier November elections, in which voters had to meet a state-approved exemption to vote early or by absentee ballot, all voters can take advantage of early and absentee voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the Virginia General Assembly removed the requirement to present a photo ID only to vote in elections, Muir said voters still need to present a form of identification from the following:
• Voter confirmation documents
• A Virginia DMV-issued driver’s license or ID card
• A valid U.S. passport
• Employer-issued ID
• Student ID issued by any university or college in the U.S. or by a Virginia high school
• Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued ID
• Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID
• Virginia voter photo ID card
• Any current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document with your name and address
Any voter who does not bring an acceptable ID to the poll can sign an ID Confirmation Statement and be allowed to vote. Refusal to sign that statement means the voter will have to cast a provisional ballot.
Early voting runs from Friday through Oct. 31 at all registrars’ offices. Wise County, the only locality in the LENOWISCO area to offer a satellite early voting location, also allows voters to cast early ballots at the Big Stone Gap Town Hall. That site will be open Oct. 12-31, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and will also be open on Saturday, Oct. 24 and 31 for early voting.
Absentee ballots can be requested now in all localities, and the deadline is Oct. 23 via mail, email or fax. Voters can go to their local registrar by Oct. 31 to make an in-person request for an absentee ballot. The deadline to return absentee ballots is by the close of polls on Election Day.
Absentee voters can return their ballots in person to their registrars. Voters have to return their ballot either signed, witnessed and sealed or have a registrar witness them completing and signing their ballot. Friends, family or acquaintances cannot return another voter’s absentee ballot, and the ballots are due at the voter’s registrar office or precinct by the close of polls on Nov. 3.
Persons wanting to register to vote or voters needing to make changes in their registration information must do so with their local registrar by Oct. 13.
Emergency voting is an option available to voters who may be hospitalized or who have to leave town for work reasons. Emergency voting is not a substitute for absentee ballots, and a medical or work reason must be valid according to state voting laws.
Curb service for people wanting to drop off their absentee ballots will be available at registrars’ offices. For more information on ballots, registration, deadlines, office hours, voting precincts curb service or updating voting information, contact your local registrar:
• Scott County: (276) 386-3843
• Lee County: (276) 346-7780
• Wise County: (276) 328-8331
• Norton: (276) 679-1162
In-person voting will continue to be available at all regular polling locations in Wise County on Election Day, Nov. 3. Precincts will open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. If you are in line at 7 p.m., you will be able to vote. Do not get out of line if you are in line to vote at 7 p.m.
For information on elections, including candidates, visit the Virginia State Board of Elections website: www.elections.virginia.gov.
Voter registration deadline: Oct.13, 2020 5 p.m.
Absentee (early) voting begins: Sept. 18, 2020 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Absentee vote by mail request deadline: Oct. 23, 2020 5 p.m.
Absentee (early) in person deadline: Oct. 31, 2020 5 p.m.