While Virginia this year is moving into the world of same-day voter registration (up to and including Election Day), Arlington election officials say it might be better for all concerned if those who want to cast ballots get the registration process completed sooner rather than later.
“Our preference is that individuals register by that Oct. 17 deadline – that’s the safest way,” county Registrar Gretchen Reinemeyer said at the Sept. 15 Electoral Board meeting, which focused on procedural efforts to make the Nov. 8 election run smoothly.
Wait, wait . . . if there’s now “same-day registration” in Virginia, what’s that Oct. 17 deadline all about? Like so much of life, it’s complicated.
New voters who complete their registration before that date will be registered in advance of the election (assuming all other requirements are met). But then the pollbooks close until after the election takes place.
Those who register between Oct. 18 and Nov. 8 will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, and then right after the election, the pollbooks will be reopened, those applicants retroactively will be registered to vote and (once again assuming all other requirements are met) the Electoral Board will accept their provisional ballots as valid and they will count in the final tally, which is due to be certified no later than Nov. 15.
Prospective voters can register at the election office or at early-voting sites prior to the election. Those who wish to register and cast ballots on Nov. 8 will have to do so at their designated voting precincts.
Complicated? Never fear; help is on the way.
“We’re working to build some tools” to make the new process, which was handed down from the state level, less onerous,” Reinemeyer said. Those enhancements include adding a “procedural specialist” at every Arlington precinct who will be drilled on the intricacies of the law and able to help voters.
“We’re working to get this implemented successfully,” Reinemeyer said. “A lot of people seem confused.”