Voter Registrations in Virginia
Voter registration in Virginia is a key element of a fulfilling your civic duties. Virginia makes it easy to register to vote by offering a multitude of registration options that serve the specific needs of its diverse population. Registering to vote in Virginia simply places an applicant in the state database to be notified of and included in all upcoming elections for which that applicant is eligible.
Applicants may choose to vote in some elections and not others. While obtaining a voter registration card is not mandated by law in Virginia. Failure to do so can exclude a citizen from important political developments with which he or she may be rightfully concerned.
Who can register to vote in Virginia?
All residents of Virginia wishing to register to vote must meet official state requirements for eligibility. Voter registration in Virginia calls for all of the following criteria to be met by the applicant:
- Be a United States citizen
- Officially reside in Virginia
- Be a minimum of eighteen years of age on or before the next election day
- If previously convicted of a felony, have had voting rights restored
- If previously declared mentally incompetent by a judicial committee, have had capacity restored by court order
Virginia law also mandates that voting applicants not plan to register to vote or be already registered to vote in another state.
What does the voter registration process entail in Virginia?
You can register to vote in Virginia in one of three simple ways: electronically, by mail or in person at your local registration office. Interested residents can pick up either a Virginia Voter Registration Application or a National Voter Registration Application form at the local registrar’s office, or download a PDF copy from the website of the Virginia Secretary of State.
Voting applications can also be obtained at state or local government offices servicing Food Stamps, WIC, Medicaid, Aid to Dependent Children, Rehabilitation Services, Disability Services and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Public libraries and military recruitment centers in Virginia offer the application as well.
Your voting registration application will ask you to provide formal photo identification such as a driver’s license or state ID, basic information such as your birth date, your local Virginia address and an official verification of that address in the form of a bank statement, utility bill or other government document.
To increase the success of your petition, all aspects of the Virginia voter registration application should be completed even when they do not directly apply to you. Simply write “none“ or “non-applicable” for any voting registration queries that do not pertain to you, but be sure to leave nothing on the application blank.
You will be issued a Virginia voter registration card or other confirmation by mail shortly after submission of your application and should contact the local registration office if you do not receive such correspondence within a reasonable amount of time. When registering to vote in Virginia, remember the designated registration deadlines. General and primary elections require registration twenty-two days prior to an election.
Special elections must be registered for thirteen days in advance. Special elections called by the governor allow voter registration up to seven days preceding the election date. All Virginia voting applications that are mailed must be postmarked by these same time frames and those citizens wishing to deliver their applications by hand must do so by 5 p.m. on the applicable election deadline.
Where do I go to find out how to register to vote via an absentee ballot in Virginia?
The Virginia Department of Elections offers absentee ballot voter registration requests via its online citizen portal, by mail, fax, email or in person at your local registration office. If you have a valid Virginia driver’s license, you can register to vote by absentee ballot fastest by using the Online Absentee Ballot (OAB). You must complete absentee ballot registration within forty-five days prior to the election you wish to vote in.
Virginia residents who register to vote by in-person absentee ballot have until the Saturday preceding the election to vote at their local registration office unless a qualifying emergency occurs, in which case they have until 5 p.m. the day before the official election date.
Valid photo identification must be presented and in-person absentee voters can vote right away using a voting machine or other accessible service right there in the registrar’s office. Those residents submitting via mail, fax or email have until 7 p.m. on Election Day to submit their absentee ballots.
Am I registered to vote in Virginia elections if I am active-duty military?
“Where do I vote if I am a Virginia citizen stationed overseas with the military or otherwise working abroad?” Thanks to Virginia’s active participation in the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), there is no need to change voter registration address information for uniformed military personnel wishing to exercise their right to vote in Virginia while serving overseas. Active-duty military members and their eligible family members, along with other Virginia citizens working overseas, have the right to request that their absentee ballots be sent to them via email provided certain standard guidelines are met and obeyed.
If you are a legal resident of Virginia who had not yet completed voter registration in the state prior to being deployed, you can utilize the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) which allows you to achieve registration and request your absentee ballot at one time. You must sign your FPCA form and then mail, fax or email it back to your local registration office in Virginia.
While overseas citizens can register and request absentee status via the basic Virginia Voter Registration Application and absentee ballot request forms available on the Virginia Department of Elections website, it is advisable to use the FPCA to save time by eliminating multiple steps. When you register to vote with an FPCA form, you are immediately sent ballots relating to all elections for which you are eligible to vote within the next calendar year.
Normal voting registration deadlines apply for uniformed military personnel, their eligible family members and other overseas-employed Virginia residents. Late registration can be extended to these voters where need is established, giving them up until seven days preceding the election to get their registration materials in to the registrar.
If for any reason you do not receive your FBCA voter registration papers in time to receive ballots, you can utilize the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) as an efficient backup and can submit a non-paper form, provided you have a valid Virginia driver’s license or state ID.
How do I change voter registration information in Virginia?
It is vital to complete a voter registration change of address in Virginia as quickly as possible post your residential move in order not to jeopardize your ability to vote in the next election. The registration deadlines in place for registering to vote also extend to address and name changes in Virginia. If you do not update your voter information with your local registration office within the appropriate amount of time prior to the election, you may not be able to vote.
The easiest way to change voter registration address or name information is to update your voter record online via the digital registration system provided by the Department of Elections. You can also apply for these types of changes, as well as inquire about replacing a lost or stolen voter registration card, via a letter containing the requested change and your original signature written to your local registrar. Requests for changes can be faxed, mailed or delivered in person.