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Prepare to participate

As vital as voting is to democracy, the rules and regulations around doing so can be difficult to remember. Here are some tips for anyone who hasn’t already cast their vote.

As vital as voting is to democracy, the rules and regulations around doing so can be difficult to remember. Here are some tips for anyone who hasn’t already cast their vote.


Brianna Smith

Between COVID-19, gerrymandering, and confusing voter ID laws, it’s important to be informed about how, when, and where to vote. That’s why we put together the top six things you need to know before you go to polls or mail-in your ballot.

Here are the basic things you need to know about voting in Virginia. If you have more questions, see your local registrar’s contact information below.

1. Know when to register.

You must register to vote at least 22 days before the polls open in any given election year. Oct. 13 was the deadline to register this time around. Bring some form of Identification, be it a driver’s license, U.S. passport, student or work ID, utility bill, or bank statement verifying your address.

2. Know where to register.

You can register to vote through the Virginia Department of Elections, online through your state or local elections office, your local public library, or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Turn the completed application into your local elections office or the address which can be found at the top of the form.

3. decide early how you would like to vote.

Early voting opens up 45 days from Election Day and ends the Saturday prior, according to the Virginia Department of Elections. If you’re voting by mail, you can do so through the state or local elections office or submit an absentee ballot application. College students can choose to vote by mail at their campus address or home address.

4. Know how you can vote.

If you already requested a mail-in ballot, you are still able to submit it at a polling station but it must be turned in on Election Day by 7 p.m. If you choose to return your ballot through the mail — after requesting a mail-in ballot — it must be received by your local elections office by noon on Nov. 6.

5. Know when you can vote.

The window for voting early is from Sept. 18 through Oct. 31. The deadline to get a mail-in ballot opens Sept. 18 and the deadline to request one is Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. Election Day is Nov. 3. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day for those voting in-person, and poll workers will allow anyone in line by 7 p.m.to vote.

6. Ask questions early.

Visit VoteAmerica.com for more information on registration or contact your local registrar. For those registered on or around the areas that include state HBCUs, we’ve placed some pertinent contact information below.

Local Registrars

Chesterfield County:
Constance Hargrove
804-748-1471
registrar@chesterfield.gov

Hampton:
Tara Morgan
757-727-6218
tmorgan@hampton.gov

Lynchburg:
Christine Gibbons
434-477-5999
registrar@lynchburgva.gov

Norfolk:
Stephanie Iles
757-664-4353
vote@norfolk.gov

Richmond:
J. Kirk Showalter
804-646-5950
VoterRegistration@richmondgov.com


Next: This is how some of Virginia’s HBCU student government presidents are pushing their colleges’ student bodies to vote.