By Carol Vaughn —
Accomack County officials are taking steps to ensure voters know about no-excuse early voting — and know where the new Voter Registration office is.
Early voting is something new to Virginia voters this year, after the General Assembly passed legislation removing a previous provision that required voters to provide a reason for voting absentee.
Additionally, all 16 polling places in Accomack County, including Tangier, will be open for in-person voting on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Polling locations have not changed since the last election, according to Voter Registrar Patricia White.
The usual polling locations in Northampton also are open on Election Day.
If you are not sure where your polling location is call the Accomack County Voter Registration office at 757-787-2935 or 757-824-0525 or check online at www.elections.virginia.gov
Northampton County voters can call 757-678-0480 or email [email protected] for information.
New Voting Registration Office in Accomac
Accomack County spent more than $200,000 to renovate a building at the entrance to Sawmill Park for the new voter registration office, after it became clear the old office in the Circuit Courthouse would not have enough space to accommodate early voting, according to Accomack County Administrator Mike Mason.
The new office is at 24387 Joynes Neck Road in Accomac.
Mason updated the Board of Supervisors at the September meeting about initiatives to make sure residents know where to go for voter registration and election services.
The county erected a sign next to the new office and also is installing signs under the current Sawmill Park signs on U.S. Business Route 13 in Accomac, directing people to the office.
Additionally, large, flashing signs are on the highway to the north and south of the Perdue Farms facility, advising people of the location.
There also is a sign posted at the old office, directing voters to the new location.
Information also is posted on the county website, Mason said.
STAR Transit has added the new office to its bus route.
A ballot dropbox, with security cameras, was installed outside the voter registration office at a cost of nearly $8,100, according to White.
The office received a grant of $58,030 through the federal CARES Act to help with COVID-19 related expenses, White said in an email.
In addition to the drop box and security cameras, items purchased with the grant include extra postage to account for the number of mailed absentee ballots anticipated and signs to indicate early voting will take place at the office.
It is anticipated there also will be expenses for part-time help, extra printing and paper, and personal protective equipment, White said.
Absentee ballot requests are up
As of Sept. 14, the Accomack voter registration office had received 1,700 applications for absentee ballots.
The office began mailing ballots to those voters Sept. 18, the same day in-person early voting began, White said.
As of Sept. 17, the Virginia Department of Elections had received 824,000 requests for absentee ballots by mail, according to a press release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.
In comparison, 566,000 votes were cast absentee in the 2016 election—half were submitted by mail.
In Congressional District 2, which includes the Eastern Shore and part of Hampton Roads, more than 61,000 voters had requested mail-in ballots by Sept. 7 — up nearly 179% from four years ago, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
How, When, and Where to Vote
Voters have 45 days to take part in early voting, which they can do at the voter registration office in their county. Bring identification and wear a face covering.
Early voting and absentee voting began Sept. 18 and run through Oct. 31.
In Accomack County, 213 people voted Friday, Sept. 18 — the first day of early voting; another 192 voted Monday.
Northampton County had 150 people vote the first day of early voting.
Accomack Voter Registration office hours are 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Beginning Sept. 8 and through Nov. 6 the office will NOT close between 12:30 P.M. and 1 p.m. for lunch, as it typically does.
Additionally, the office will be open the last two Saturdays, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, during the same hours, for early voting. Early voting ends Saturday, Oct. 31 at 5 p.m.
Accomack County voters also may vote early by coming to the office and having someone come inside to tell the workers a voter needs their ballot brought out to the vehicle, if the person is unable to come inside, according to White.
Northampton County voters may come to the Voter Registration Office at 16404 Courthouse Road in Eastville to vote early. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the last two Saturdays, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Register by Oct. 13 to Vote in Nov. 3 Election
If you are not a registered voter, the last day to register to vote or make changes to a registration in order to vote in the Nov. 3 election is Oct. 13 by 11:59 online or by 5 p.m. in person.
As long as a person has a valid identification, he or she may register or change voting information online at www.elections.virginia.gov, or may contact the voter registration office by phone or come by the office.
The last day to apply for an absentee ballot to be mailed to a voter is Oct. 23 by 5 p.m.
Absentee ballots returned to the voter registration office by mail must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Friday, Nov. 6 by noon to be counted.
If you have requested an absentee ballot through the mail, please vote that ballot and mail it in. If you have misgivings about mail service, you may drop off your voted ballot, sealed in envelope B, at the voter registration office or, in Accomack County, the dropbox.
What’s on the ballot?
Accomack County voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote for President, Vice President, U.S. Senate, and U.S. Representative. Additionally, five towns — Accomac, Bloxom, Melfa, Onley, and Painter — will vote for mayor and town council. Parksley voters also have a special election on the ballot to fill the unexpired council seat vacated when Frank Russell was elected mayor in May.
In Northampton, voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote for President, Vice President, U. S. Senate, and U. S. Representative. Additionally, Eastville, Cheriton, and Nassawadox will vote for mayor and town council.
Voters in both counties have on the ballot two questions about proposed amendments to the Virginia constitution.
One asks whether the constitution should be amended to establish a redistricting commission responsible for redrawing congressional and state legislative district lines.
A second asks whether a vehicle owned by a veteran with a service-connected disability should be exempt from state and local taxes.
Northampton voters also have a question on the ballot about whether to add a up to 1% to the general sales tax to provide revenue for school capital projects.