Absentee voting in Va. starts Friday and could change Northern Virginia

Absentee voting begins Friday in critical Virginia primaries for state and local offices.

In-person absentee voting for those with qualifying reasons — long commutes on Election Day or plans to be out of town, for example — starts Friday morning at local election offices across the state.

This is one of the final elections where a reason will be required for all absentee voters in Virginia. A new law effective starting with the Nov. 2020 general election will allow all voters to cast ballots early beginning two Saturdays before Election Day.

Voters who have requested absentee ballots in the mail and who have June primaries they are eligible to vote in should receive their ballots in coming days.

The voting is getting underway despite a pending ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on which lines will be in place for House of Delegates elections this fall. A lower court ordered new lines implemented this year to fix what the judges found to be unconstitutional gerrymandering based on race that benefited Republicans’ election chances.

The Supreme Court could rule any time in the next few months, but for now, the state is operating under the new lines ordered by the lower court panel. Getting the new lines in place in time for this primary was a scramble for state elections officials as it was.

Primary day is June 11. The General Election is Nov. 5.

General Assembly primaries in the region include several challenges to incumbent Democrats from the left, challenges to incumbent Republicans from the right, and a heated Republican race for the open 13th Senate District between Loudoun Supervisors Geary Higgins and Ron Meyer.

Leaders in both parties have called for Kevin Wade, a challenger for the Democratic nomination against experienced incumbent Del. Luke Torian to withdraw over a racist video Wade posted on Facebook. Wade apologized but remains in the race.

Some other interesting races across the state include former Del. Joe Morrissey’s challenge of incumbent Democratic Sen. Rosalyn Dance.

All 140 Virginia General Assembly seats are on the ballot this fall.

Democratic and Republican candidates with no opposition for their party’s nomination for General Assembly or local office have already qualified for November’s general election, and many other nominations are being decided through local party meetings or firehouse primaries rather than through the state-administered elections process.

Local races

In Northern Virginia, primary elections and caucuses will choose the likely winners in a number of open supervisors seats that are solidly Democratic or Republican, which is extremely important in a year where many supervisors are either not running for re-election or have moved on to run for higher office.

Fairfax County, for example, has half of the seats open on its Board of Supervisors, which could lead to a sea change (or not) in county policies.

Four Democrats are running in the party’s first primary in decades for Board of Supervisors Chairman. Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay has the endorsement of retiring Chairman Sharon Bulova, but that has not assured him of victory with three others on the ballot. School Board member Ryan McElveen, developer Timothy Chapman and Georgetown law professor Alicia Plerhoples are the others running with calls for even more significant or progressive action.

Five candidates are running for the Democratic nomination in the Hunter Mill District, four in the Lee District and five in the Providence District.

The winners in each of those Fairfax County races will see themselves as the favorites to win in November.

Fairfax County Republicans have mass meetings planned to select their nominees in contested races.

In Prince William County, Republicans are holding a firehouse primary from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 4 to nominate their candidates for the Board of Supervisors and other local offices.

Republican Corey Stewart is not running for re-election as chairman.

Unlike the state-run primaries that are open to anyone since Virginia voters do not register by party, the party-run events can require participants to promise to support that party’s candidates in November.

Democrats will hold a regular primary June 11, with voting starting Friday, for their contested Prince William County races.

Democrats Raheel Sheikh and L.T. Pridgen are running for the Coles District nomination. New supervisor Victor Angry, the first black supervisor in the county, is running for a full term in the Neabsco District against Democratic challenger Aracely Panameno. Kenny Boddye and A.C.E. Edmond are running for the Democratic nomination in the Occoquan District. Margaret Franklin is challenging Supervisor Frank Principi for the Democratic nomination in the Woodbridge District.

In Loudoun County, Supervisor Koran Saines is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Ibrahim Moiz.

Local school board races are technically nonpartisan, but local party committees endorse candidates in those races.

Fairfax County Republicans endorsed their slate of school board candidates Tuesday night, including incumbents Elizabeth Schultz and Tom Wilson.

Voters are also choosing nominees for offices ranging from Clerk of the Court in Alexandria to Commonwealth’s Attorney in Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify when Virginia’s new early voting law takes effect.

  • Q: When is the primary? When do polls open?
  • The 2020 Democratic presidential primary in Virginia is March 3, 2020. Polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.

  • Q: What's on the ballot? Who can vote?
  • Only the candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president will be on the ballot. The list of candidates on the ballot includes some candidates who have already dropped out of the race.

    Virginia’s is an open primary — meaning any registered voter can cast a ballot regardless of their party registration.

    The Virginia Republican Party has notified the Virginia Department of Elections it will not hold a primary on March 3. President Donald Trump is running for reelection and is expected to be officially selected as the state party’s nominee at a party convention.

    Democratic and Republican primaries to select candidates for the U.S. House and Senate are set to take place June 9, 2020.

  • Q: What do I need to vote?
  • You must have been registered to vote at least 22 days before Election Day.

    When you show up to the polls, you will need to show a photo ID to vote in person. Acceptable forms of ID include:

    • Virginia driver’s license
    • Virginia DMV-issued photo ID
    • United States passport
    • Employer-issued photo ID
    • Virginia Voter Photo ID card
    • Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued photo ID
    • Student photo ID issued by a school, college or university located in Virginia
    • Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID

    If you show up to vote and don’t have ID, you will have to vote using a provisional ballot.

  • Q: Voting absentee?
  • The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is Feb. 25. You can apply online for one, and register to vote if you aren’t already, at the Virginia Department of Election’s website, as well as in-person or by email, fax and standard mail.

    If you already signed up to vote absentee and received your ballot, you must turn it in to your voter registration office by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Absentee voters can also check the status of their ballot through the state’s online citizen portal.

  • Q: Need accommodations?
  • If you are 65 or older or you have a physical disability, you can vote from your car at your polling place on Election Day. The department of elections recommends you bring a helper with you who can go into the polling place and request curbside assistance.

  • Q: Who else is voting?
  • A lot of people. They don’t call it Super Tuesday for nothing. Virginia is one of 14 states plus American Samoa that are voting March 3.

  • Q: Will WTOP have election coverage for Maryland and D.C.?
  • Absolutely! A similar set of FAQs will be set up for both. Stay tuned.

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