Request an absentee ballot
In Virginia, anyone can vote by mail, but you need to request a ballot.
The deadline was Oct. 23. The U.S. Postal Service recommends voters request a ballot as soon as possible but not later than Oct. 19.
Ballots are mailed starting Sept. 18.
Fill out your ballot
Mailed ballots need more than your vote. Most require at least one signature and can’t have any stray marks. They must be sent back in the envelope provided.
Here’s a more detailed guide on how to make sure your ballot is counted. Be sure to follow the instructions that accompanied your ballot and contact your local election officials with any questions.
Return your ballot
Your ballot can be returned at a dropbox, in person or by mail by you or a third party, with some restrictions. Prepaid return postage for ballots is guaranteed in Virginia.
Ballots must be dropped off in person or postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by mail no later than Nov. 6. Check with local officials for specific times. The U.S. Postal Service recommends voters mail their ballot at least one week prior to the state deadline, by Oct. 27.
You can track your ballot’s status here .
Don’t wait too long! The U.S. Postal Service sent a warning to the Virginia Secretary of State that deadlines did not allow enough time for mail delivery and could disenfranchise voters.
Your ballot is verified and counted
From identifying information and tracking bar codes on your ballot to signatures, a lot has gone into making sure your vote is accurate and will count by the time your ballot is returned.
For certain problems with your ballot, election officials are required to contact you and offer you a chance to “cure” it so it can be counted.
Absentee ballots may start being processed upon receipt and formally counted on Election Day. Dates can vary based on jurisdiction size or the number of mail ballots sent.
Casting a ballot in person
In Virginia, you can request, complete and submit a ballot all at once at a designated location, such as your county clerk’s office, from Sept. 18 to Oct. 31. You can vote in person at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3. Be sure to check your voting location ahead of time.
Virginia requires you to show identification to cast a ballot in person. If you don’t have one, or forget to bring it, you may need to cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted once your eligibility is verified, or take other steps to confirm your identity. Ask a pollworker if you need to follow up.
Wearing a mask to vote in person is recommended.
If you received a ballot in the mail but decide you want to vote in person, you can — but you may be required to take an additional action, such as surrendering your ballot, signing an affidavit or casting a provisional ballot. Contact your local election officials for details.
You’re all set
You can visit Virginia’s election website for more details on voting. If you have any questions or issues or need to check the status of your provisional ballot contact your local elections officials.
Want to learn how to register to vote or vote by mail? You can with different choices.
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About this story
Editing by Reuben Fischer-Baum and Ann Gerhart. Copy editing by Briana R. Ellison and Brian Cleveland. Additional development by Lucio Villa. Illustrations by Abbey Lossing. Susan Berger, Mark Kreidler, Alan Neuhauser and Annette Nevins contributed to this report.
Voting information for this project was collected from official sources, including secretaries of state, county clerks and written election codes. In some cases, The Post used news reports, court opinions and published research from sources such as the National Conference of State Legislatures to check or verify details.
Illustrations in this piece should not be used as a precise guide for how to mark your ballot.
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