Virginia continues to break records, as the number of Virginians voting absentee surpasses the total number of absentee ballots cast in the 2004 presidential election.
For this year’s election, as of November 3, there have been 538,130 absentee ballot applications approved and 465,962 absentee ballots processed. More than 300,000 Virginians voted in person absentee. In 2004, a total of 222,059 absentee ballots were cast.
With more than five million voters registered and about ten percent of them voting absentee, Virginia is still gearing up for a busy Election Day. Unlike neighboring states, since November 2007 Virginia has conducted seven elections, three of them statewide. These elections provided opportunities to identify, address, and ultimately prepare for potential issues that could occur on November 4.
However, there have been some challenges. The confusion between early voting and Virginia’s system of absentee voting, that was perpetuated by some non-state agencies/organizations and a few media outlets, slowed down the absentee voting process.
Localities were prepared for larger than normal absentee voting turnout, but the confusion that Virginia has early voting led to longer lines. Despite some lines to vote absentee, more than half of Virginia’s 134 localities either reported waits of no more than fifteen minutes.
There have also been some misunderstandings about voter registration and the postmark deadline of October 6.
“Voters need to check their registration status before they go to the polls because if they are not registered to vote or go to the wrong polling place it will slow the voting process,” says Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary of the State Board of Elections. “We received thousands of registration applications that were incomplete, unreadable, or did not meet the deadline. We are bound by Virginia law and unfortunately these individuals will not be able to cast their votes in this election.”