Early voting begins next week around county

Starting late next week, Charlotte County residents will be able to cast their ballot in three upcoming primary races. Early voting begins on Friday, May 3 for primaries in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Primary Day itself is scheduled for Tuesday, June 18. 

But early voting can be confusing. Over the last few days, The Gazette has been asked where people go to vote and what to do if you want to vote early. And oh yeah, residents also want to know who’s on the ballot this time. 

Let’s answer the easy one first. Who is on the ballot? Here in Charlotte County, as we mentioned before, there are three races. First, there is one Republican primary for the U.S. Senate nomination. There are five candidates competing for the spot, including Hung Cao, Eddie Garcia Jr., Jonathan Emord, Chuck Smith Jr. and Scott Thomas Parkinson. The winner of that primary will go on to face incumbent Tim Kaine in the November general election. Kaine had no challengers for the Democratic nomination, so he automatically advances. 

There are also Republican and Democratic primaries for the Fifth District seat in the House of Representatives, currently held by Republican Bob Good. Good is being challenged in the primary by Virginia State Sen. John McGuire. On the Democratic side, there are three competitors, including Gloria Tinsley Witt, Paul A. Riley and Gary L. Terry. 

So now you know which candidates are running. As for how you vote? Here’s how that works. 

WHERE DO I GO? 

In Virginia, the primary elections, as we mentioned before, are set for Tuesday, June 18. As a result, early voting begins on Friday, May 3. Why? That’s because early voting starts 45 days prior to the primary. 

To be clear, however, that doesn’t mean you head to the same precinct as you do in November. 

Early voting is limited to one location in each county. In Charlotte, that means going to the registrar’s office, located at 420 Thomas Jefferson Highway in Charlotte Court House. Starting on May 3, citizens will be able to vote at the location from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays on June 8 and June 15, also from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

To vote early, you will need to do a few things. First, you’ll need to provide your name and address. Second, you have to show an ID. Acceptable IDs include a driver’s license, DMV-issued ID card, employee ID card with a photo, US Military ID or government-issued ID card. You can also use a recent utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck containing your name and address.

If you haven’t registered to vote yet, there’s still time. The deadline to register and vote in this June primary is Tuesday, May 28.

That May 28 deadline also goes for people who just moved. Regardless of where you moved from, be it out of state or just the county next door, you must get your registration updated by May 28. You can do that at your local registrar’s office, at the address we reference above. 

ABOUT ABSENTEE BALLOTS?

If you can’t make it over to vote early in person, there’s also an absentee option. You can request an absentee ballot from your local registrar, then fill it out and return it via mail or in-person drop-off. 

A witness signature is required on all mail-in ballots cast in this year’s election. If a ballot is missing that signature or any other required information, the voter will be contacted by their local elections office and asked to correct it. 

If this is the first time you’re voting, you need to include one more piece. Federal law requires that everyone has to show an ID when voting for the first time in a federal election. As several U.S. House seats are up this year, it qualifies as a federal election. For an absentee ballot, that means sending a copy of your ID with the registration application.