Vote by mail applications on the rise

Published 6:58 pm Thursday, September 3, 2020

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This Nov. 3, with the states still dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, a record numbers of Americans are expected to vote by mail or vote in person early to avoid the lines at their local voting precincts.

Gov. Ralph Northam introduced legislation earlier this year with the goal to increase voter turnout and decrease congestion at the polls on Election Day.

With No Excuse, Early Voting in place this election year, Charlotte County interim registrar Eric Goode said the office has seen an uptick in Vote by Mail applications.

Voters can vote absentee as early as 45 days before the election. Goode said that even though this has always been the case, there is a change.

“Voting absentee 45 days before has always been the case,” Goode said, “However, it’s in the forefront this year because in actuality it is No Excuse Early Voting (rather than Absentee Voting) because voters are not required to provide a reason. The difference being voters may vote in-person during this 45-day period without completing an application.”

Early voting in Virginia starts Sept. 18 and runs through Oct. 31.

Goode said he believes that the new legislation is a good idea, especially with the COVID-19 guidelines.

“It allows voters to vote in person without having to complete forms and should negate long lines on Election Day,” Goode said.

Goode said even though voters do not have to complete an application to vote early, a form of identification is needed.

Goode said on Election Day at the polls and at any time voters enter the office to early vote that, although the law does not permit the registrar’s office to require voters wear masks,  they do suggest them.

“No voter can be turned away because he/she fails to wear a mask,” he said.

Goode said all Charlotte County voting precincts would continue to follow all CDC, VDH, the State Board of Elections, and the Department of Elections health guidelines.

“It will be necessary to have a COVID cleaning crew clean each precinct before the election and return and repeat the process after the election,” he said.

The number of voters who will be allowed in a precinct will also depend on the building’s size as six feet of social distancing will be followed.

Voters can take advantage of the 45 days of No Excuse Early Voting in Charlotte County for In-Person Early Voting beginning Sept. 18 on Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as well as the following Saturdays, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.