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More ways to vote

There’s a lot at stake in the upcoming election, and thanks to new laws in Virginia, you can have your say earlier than in previous years, and there are ways to do it that help keep you safe in the midst of this pandemic.

In previous years, Virginia has had only absentee voting in person, absentee voting by mail, or voting at your polling place on Election Day. In order to participate in either of the absentee voting options, you had to give a reason why you would not be able to go to your polling place on Election Day.

The allowed reasons were fairly numerous, so many people were able to take advantage of absentee voting at one point or another over the years. But still, if you didn’t fit into one of the categories, you were forced to brave the long lines on Election Day in order to cast your ballot.

This year, the laws have changed. You can still cast your ballot early, but you don’t need to provide an excuse for being absent from your polling place in order to do so. Otherwise, it’s the same process as it’s always been. This change opens the door to a lot more people being able to cast their ballot early, and it comes at just the right time for the pandemic we are dealing with.

This year’s presidential election is closely watched, as many people believe it will affect the direction of our country for the next four years and beyond. Here in Suffolk, we also have the mayor’s seat and a total of six other seats on the City Council and School Board on the ballot, and these elections are vital for our city and schools.

No matter what names you’re marking on your ballot, it is important that you vote this year.

We encourage everyone to take advantage of early voting this year to help avoid the crowds on Election Day. Early voting started on Friday, and you can read about how smooth the process was for some of the earliest voters in reporter Jimmy LaRoue’s story that starts on the front page. Page 5 features some details on all of the available ways to vote this year.