The 2012 General Election is November 6, 2012! Mark your calendars and read on for the information you need to make sure you’re ready to vote. Voting for pro-choice candidates in each and every election is one of the most important ways you can take action to protect reproductive freedom in Virginia and nationwide.
First things first — make sure you’re registered, your information is up-to-date, and you know where to vote!
Check to see if you’re registered in Virginia and if your information is up to date with this handy tool on the Virginia Board of Elections website. Make sure no changes need to be made to your voter registration information (because you have moved, had a name change, etc.).
If you are not currently registered or if changes such as address or name updates need to be made to your voter information, you must submit the application by Monday, October 15 (22 days before the election). This means that your application must be in the mail and postmarked (or delivered in person to your local registrar’s office) by that date. Download the voter application form here [pdf]. If you do not receive a Voter Card in the mail within 30 days after applying, contact your city or county voter registration office or the State Board of Elections.
Do you need an absentee ballot?
Per the Virginia State Board of Elections: “Absentee voting provides a means for qualified voters to participate in upcoming elections even though they may not be able to go to the polls on election day.” See for the full list of authorized reasons one may vote absentee in Virginia, such as being out of town, being a student studying away from home, illness or disability, or work or family caretaking obligations. Remember: every vote counts, and very close elections can come down to absentee ballots — so make sure your voice will be heard even if you can’t be there in person on Election Day!
Applications for absentee ballots must be received by the general registrar located in the city or county that you are registered to vote by 5:00 PM eastern standard time on the Tuesday prior to the election in which the applicant offers to vote: this year, that’s Tuesday, October 30. You must complete a separate absentee ballot application for each election in which you intend to vote absentee — so if you got an absentee ballot last time you voted, you still need to apply for one again this time.
Download and print this absentee ballot application form [pdf], fill it out, and mail it to the local registrar’s office for your county or city (addresses available on the form) ASAP. Once you have submitted your application for an absentee ballot, you can check the status of your ballot application online to make sure it was received and is being processed.
There have been recent changes to identification requirements for voting in Virginia, so even if you’ve voted before it’s important to make sure you know the current requirements! All Virginia active registered voters will be mailed a new Virginia voter identification card prior to the November 2012 General Election, and this is an acceptable form of identification, so hang on to it when it arrives in the mail. Other than your official voter ID card, you can use the following forms of ID when you go to vote: a valid driver’s license or other government-issued ID card; employer-issued photo ID; military ID card; valid student ID from a Virginia higher education institution; a concealed handgun permit; or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the name and address of the voter. No matter which form of ID you choose, make sure you have one with you to make sure your vote is counted!
You’re all set to vote — now, be an informed voter!
It’s best to take a look ahead of time and see which candidates are going to appear on your ballot so you can do some research. By looking up your voter registration information you can see your polling location and which districts you are in, and closer to Election Day you’ll be able to see who will be appearing on your ballot. Note that due to legislative redistricting following the 2010 census, there may be some changes to your district or your polling location since the last time you voted.
As you may know, Virginia statewide and state legislative offices are not up for election this year (that will be next year on November 5, 2013!). This year there are federal races for President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives. Visit NARAL Pro-Choice America’s “Pro-Choice Voter Guide” for Virginia to see how our national organization has classified each candidate in these federal races and learn more. (You’ll see that some candidates are “currently being researched” — check back closer to Election Day for the latest information.)
More resources on voting in Virginia:
- Virginia State Board of Elections main Voter Information page including “Tips to Get Your Vote Counted in Virginia”
- If you have any questions, be sure to contact your local registrar’s office.
- League of Women Voters Vote411.org Virginia page
- 866OurVote.org Virginia information page
- Student Voting Guide for Virginia from Brennan Center for Justice
- Know your rights at the polls with the ACLU of VA’s Voter Rights Guide in English or in Spanish.
- Find out more about your elected officials and candidates in your district and where they stand on a variety of issues with tools such as Project Vote Smart.