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2,300-plus voters request absentee ballots for Nov. 3 / September 17, 2020

Early voting in the Nov. 3 general election begins Friday, and the Voter Registrar office in Halifax is reporting unprecedented demand for absentee ballots.

Halifax County Registrar Heather Harding said 2,232 voters have asked to have ballots mailed to them, and 2,032 of those requests have been approved. “We are stuffing envelopes to mail out [the absentee ballots] this afternoon,” said Harding on Wednesday.

The advance demand already exceeds the number of Halifax County voters who cast absentee ballots in the 2016 presidential election. That year, 1,663 residents voted absentee, either through the mail or in person at the registrar’s office at the Bethune Office Complex in Halifax.

This is the first presidential election in which Virginia will allow “no excuses” absentee early voting. The 45-day early voting period was enacted into law by the General Assembly this year; prior to July, when the law took effect, Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order allowing voters to cast absentee ballots by marking the box for health issues, due to the covid pandemic.

People can also vote early by mail or in person at the Registrar’s Office in Halifax. You can vote absentee in person up until the Saturday before Election Day, or send in ballots by mail with a postmark on or before Nov. 3. The deadline to request that an absentee ballot be mailed out to you is Friday, Oct. 23.

Local registrars are expecting a heavy in-person voting with the start of the early voting period on Friday. Anticipating the surge in demand, state lawmakers are requiring localities to set up drop boxes where voters can submit their completed absentee ballots. At the Bethune Complex, the drop box is located at the exterior entrance to the County Treasurer and Voter Registrar offices.

Harding said the drop box is almost ready to go, lacking only the appropriate signage to let voters know where to submit their ballots. “[We’re] waiting on the county to do the required signage,” she said. “If they haven’t done it by next Tuesday I will label it myself.”

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