How to Register to Vote and Find Your Polling Place

by Brandon Jarvis

What you might not find in all of the campaign commercials that are about to take over your television in the coming months is how to ensure you are able to vote. You have to register to vote, and go to the correct polling place in order for your vote to count this November. There are several important issues that could be decided by which party wins the majority after this election, so prepare in advance so you can lend your voice to the direction of Virginia.

A good place to find all of the information you need is the Citizen Portal on the Virginia Department of Elections website. From the portal you can access your Virginia voter record to update your registration, apply to vote absentee, and view your polling place, election district, absentee ballot status, and voting history.

You can view all of the candidates across Virginia here.

You can apply for an absentee ballot here, and if you are not already registered, you will have to wait five days after registration before you can be issued an absentee ballot (exception for military and overseas voters only).

You can also vote absentee in person prior to the election 45 days prior to the election in which you wish to vote. At the registrar’s office, fill out an Absentee Application. You must show an acceptable form of photo ID. To view a complete list of acceptable IDs, please visit the Voting In-Person page on the Elections website. After completing the application, you will be allowed to vote absentee in-person using a voting machine in the registrar’s office. Accessible equipment and/or curbside voting is available upon request.You can also apply to vote absentee by mail, find out how to do that here.

At the registrar’s office, fill out an Absentee Application. You must show an acceptable form of photo ID. To view a complete list of acceptable IDs, please visit our Voting In-Person page.

After completing the application, you will be allowed to vote absentee in-person using a voting machine in the registrar’s office. Accessible equipment and/or curbside voting is available upon request. An application completed in person can be made up to three days before the election in which the applicant wishes to vote and completed in the office of the local registrar.

You can also vote absentee by mail, find out how to do that here.

As a Virginia Voter, you have the following rights:

  • To be treated with courtesy and respect by the election officials.
  • To be notified if your voter registration has been accepted or denied.
  • To vote if you have registered at your current address at least 22 days before Election Day.
  • To seek help from the election officials if you are unsure about anything relating to the voting process.
  • To be given a demonstration of how the voting equipment works.
  • To have your paper or optical scan ballot voided before it is cast and be given a new one if you want to change your vote.
  • To change your touch screen ballot before it is cast.
  • To enter the full name of a write-in candidate if the candidate of your choice is not on the ballot (except in party primaries).
  • To have a ballot brought to your vehicle instead of entering the polling place if you are 65 years of age or older, or if you are physically disabled.
  • To have an officer of election or other person help you vote if you are physically disabled or unable to read or write (or need the ballot translated into another language). Blind voters may have any person assist them. Other voters may have anyone who is not their employer or union representative assist them.

The officer of election or other person who assists you must follow your instructions, without trying to influence your vote, and shall not tell or signal how you voted on any office or question.

  • To vote a Provisional Ballot if you have no photo identification with you at the polling place, and to present photo identification by noon on the Monday following the election to have the ballot counted.
  • To vote a Provisional Ballot if your status as a qualified voter is in question, and to be present when the Electoral Board meets to determine if your ballot will be counted. See “Provisional Ballots” below.
  • To bring your minor child (age 15 or younger) into the voting booth.
  • To vote if you are in line by 7:00 p.m. when the polls close.
  • To cast an absentee ballot if you are qualified to vote absentee. See the section on Absentee Voting.
  • You cannot be denied the right to vote if you are legally qualified to do so.
  • Government officials must not apply standards or practices which deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, and must not deny any individual the right to vote on account of errors or omissions in registration applications which are not material to determining whether such individual is qualified to vote. Officials must not apply different standards and procedures to voters in the same circumstances in determining whether they are qualified to vote.

Provisional Ballots:

  • A Provisional Ballot is a paper or optical scan ballot which is cast separately and sealed in a green envelope. An officer of election will assist the voter in completing the information on both sides of the envelope. The voter must provide the information requested and sign the Statement of Voter.
  • Provisional Ballots are not counted on Election Day. Your local Electoral Board will meet the day after the election to begin its determination of provisional votes. Voters who did not present photo ID have until noon on Friday after the election to present photo ID. The votes of qualified voters will then be counted and included in the results for your locality.
  • Provisional voters are allowed to be present when the Electoral Board meets to determine if their vote was valid or their ID was submitted, and can ask for a one day extension to gather evidence. The election officials will tell each provisional voter when and where the Electoral Board will meet, and provide a phone number to call to find out if their Provisional Ballot was counted. Voters casting a Provisional Ballot due to lack of photo ID will also be provided with information necessary to submit a copy of the required documents or to request a Virginia Voter Photo ID from the general registrar’s office in which their provisional ballot was cast.

Provisional Ballots are used:

  • When the voter’s name is not on the pollbook, the voter believes he is registered in that precinct, and the registrar’s office cannot be contacted to verify that the voter is registered.

If a voter chooses to vote a Provisional Ballot because they are at the wrong polling place and are unable or unwilling to go to the correct polling place, their vote will not be counted.

  • When a voter at the polling place fails to present one of the forms of identification required in Virginia.
  • When a voter fails to show one of the required forms of photo ID when voting in person.
  • When a voter who registered by mail on or after January 1, 2003, and did not mail in a copy of their ID at that time, fails to show one of the federally required forms of ID when voting for the first time in a federal election.
  • When a voter who was sent an absentee ballot has not received or has lost the ballot, or had previously returned the ballot spoiled or damaged and appears at his regular polling place on Election Day.
  • When the normal voting hours are extended by court order.
  • When the pollbook indicates that the voter has already cast a ballot in the current election.

Important deadlines below: Register to vote — Tuesday, October 15, 2019 Request an absentee ballot by mail — Tuesday, October 29, 2019 Vote in-person absentee — Saturday, November 2, 2019 Election day is November 5, 2019.