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What to Know Before Virginia’s June Primary

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(Photo: Yasmine Jumaa/VPM)

Virginia’s June Primary is less than two weeks away, and the state’s Department of Elections is urging voters to request absentee ballots in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Data from the elections department shows that it’s received 136,386 more absentee ballot requests this year than it did in 2016. Commissioner Chris Piper says special elections that were held in some localities last month helped the department come up with a game plan to process absentee ballots it has received before June 23. 

“The more we can do ahead of time, the smoother the processing will go on Election Day,” Piper said. 

The deadline to request an absentee ballot from local registrars is Tuesday, June 16 at 5 p.m.. 

Piper said that all polling places will be open from 6 a.m until 7 p.m. on June 23. Each location will be staffed with health officials who will oversee the sanitation processes. He added curbside voting will be available to anyone showing signs of an illness.

Other safety measures the department will take include supplying election officers with personal protective equipment and giving voters single-use pens and folders. 

Piper said that while wearing masks is encouraged, voters won’t be turned away for not having them — despite the governor’s mandatory order requiring masks at indoor public spaces. 

“We can certainly set up the polling place and ensure the safety of all the voters and the election officers by enforcing social distancing,” Piper said. “However, the right to vote is an inherent one.”

Since polling places will be enforcing the six-feet apart rule, Piper warned that will mean longer looking lines. 

Voters will need to show photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Accepted means of identification include state-issued driver’s licenses, student ID cards and U.S. passports. While the General Assembly repealed that requirement last session, the law doesn’t go into effect until July 1st.

Individuals who don’t have photo ID on Election Day are encouraged to cast their votes by provisional ballots. However, for those votes to count, residents must return to their local registrars’ offices with photo ID by noon on Friday, June 26.