Early voting starts for presidential primaries

Published 8:30 am Thursday, January 25, 2024

For Charlotte County residents, there’s just one decision to make: who do you want to vote for? Virginia’s presidential primary isn’t scheduled until March 5, but early voting started this past Friday, Jan. 19. And while the Republican primary has gotten all the media attention of late, there is in fact a Democratic presidential primary as well. 

Now since there are two primaries happening, when you go to vote, election officers will ask if you want to cast a ballot in the Republican or Democratic primary. Because Virginia doesn’t have closed elections, you can choose which of the primaries to vote in. 

BREAKING DOWN THE OPTIONS

The choice to vote in a party’s primary does not mean that the voter will be “registered” with that party. Virginia does not have party registration. Six candidates will appear on the Republican primary ballot: Chris Christie, Ryan L. Binkley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Donald J. Trump, Ron D. DeSantis, and Nikki R. Haley. Yes, most of those candidates have dropped out at this point, but they did so after the ballots were printed. Three candidates will appear on the Democratic primary ballot: Joe Biden, Marianne Williamson and Dean Benson Phillips. 

In-person early voting for the March 5, 2024, presidential primary election will continue through Saturday, March 2. To vote early in-person, registered voters should go to the general registrar’s office for the jurisdiction in which they are registered, present their ID, and cast their ballot. The location of the general registrar’s office for all jurisdictions can be found on the Virginia Department of Elections’ website as well as a list of acceptable forms of identification. 

To be clear, you might hear of some jurisdictions offering early in-person voting at both the general registrar’s office and some satellite locations. That’s not the case in Charlotte. Curbside voting, meanwhile, is also available for those with disabilities and anyone over 65. You can call the Charlotte registrar’s office at 434-542-5856 for more information about voting hours. 

WHAT ABOUT ABSENTEE BALLOTS? 

Requested absentee ballots started going out in the mail on Jan. 19, including ballots to registered military and overseas voters. Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot either in-person, by mail, online or by contacting the registrar’s office. Registered voters do not need a reason to request an absentee ballot. 

In order to return a voted ballot, voters can drop off their absentee ballot at the general registrar’s office, that’s over at 420 Thomas Jefferson Highway or at your polling location on Election Day. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before March 5 and received by the general registrar before noon Friday, March 8. 

Anyone with visual or manual dexterity impairment has the option to vote an absentee ballot using an electronic marking tool. The deadline to register to vote and cast a regular ballot is Feb. 12. After that date, voters will have to use same-day registration and vote a provisional ballot. The deadline to apply for a mailed ballot is Feb. 23. 

Voters with questions about absentee and early in-person voting should contact their general registrar’s office or the Virginia Department of Elections by phone at 1-800-552-9745 or by email at info@elections. virginia.gov. For more information, voters are encouraged to visit the Virginia Department of Elections website at www.elections.virginia. gov.