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How to Vote

Voting is a vital responsibility for all citizens who are eligible, to hold government accountable and put the will of the people into policy practice. The next election is the general election in November -- where the presidency, a Senate seat, and a seat in the House of Representatives will be on the ballot. Next year, there will be elections for Virginia's governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, as well as the state legislature. Here's how to vote in these elections:


Check Registration

If you’re not registered, you can register quickly and easily online using the Department of Elections Citizen Portal. The registration deadline is 22 days before election day. If you’re not registered by this deadline, you can register on election day or an early voting day and vote using a provisional ballot. However, if at all possible, it’s better to register in advance.

In order to register and vote, you must be eligible, meaning you must:

  1. Live in Virginia

  2. Be a US citizen

  3. Be at least 18 by the general election. (You can vote in primaries as long as you'll be 18 by the next general election.)

Additionally, if you’ve been convicted of a felony or judged mentally incompetent by a Circuit Court, you probably aren’t eligible.


Make a Plan

You should plan out, in advance, how you'll vote: making a plan makes it significantly more likely that you will actually vote. Decide whether to vote in person on election day, early in person, or by mail. Anyone can use any option in Virginia – you no longer need an excuse to vote absentee. If you're 65 or older or have a physical disability, you can vote early curbside without leaving your vehicle. You should also take the time to get to know the candidates running in a given election.

If you plan to vote by mail

Be sure to request a ballot well in advance (and no later than the deadline). Ballots can be requested online via the DoE Citizen Portal.

If you plan to vote in person

Plan out when you’ll vote, where you’ll vote (early voting happens at the registrar’s office in city hall; election day voting happens at your polling place, which you can look up on the DoE citizen portal), and how you’ll get there.

A note on primaries

The Staunton Democratic Committee strongly recommends that everyone take the time to educate themselves and vote in primaries. Virginia has open primaries, meaning that for any given election, you can vote in the Democratic primary or the Republican primary, but not both. Sometimes it make sense to vote in the Republican primary if a truly odious candidate is running, to prevent them from being nominated. However, the Staunton Democratic Committee never recommends voting for bad candidates in Republican primaries on the theory they're less electable, and so the Democrat is more likely to win the general election. This kind of cynical scheme makes us look like partisan hacks, discourages Republicans from revolting if a bad candidate is nominated, and risks installing a worse Republican when a better one was available. 

A flower in the gardens behind the Woodrow Wilson birthplace in Staunton



Be sure to return your ballot on time. You can return it in person to the registrar by 7PM on election day, or mail it. If you mail it, it must be postmarked before election day and arrive at the registrar's office within 3 days after the election. You can track your ballot online.

Be sure to get in line before 7PM: if you're in line before 7PM, you must be allowed to vote. You will need an ID; lots of different forms of ID will work, and you can find a list here. If you forget your ID, you can sign a form saying that you are who you claim to be and then provide your ID in the days following election day. If you are turned away from the polls because you’re at the wrong precinct, go to your precinct and cast a ballot; if you’re an eligible voter turned away for any other reason, request a provisional ballot.

If you plan to vote by mail

If you plan to vote in person

Need help?

If you need help with any aspect of the voting process, get in touch with us and we'll be happy to assist you or direct you to someone who can. 

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