Editorial: Pick Your Own Election Day

Editorial: Pick Your Own Election Day

It's called “absentee voting in person,” and there are a lot of reasons why you should.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. The deadline to register to vote is past, although in Northern Virginia, it's clear that a very high percentage of eligible voters are registered.

Four years ago in the presidential election of 2008, there were 5,034,660 voters registered in Virginia, and 3,752,858 actually voted. Just in the month of September 2012, Fairfax County saw more than 6,000 newly registered voters, for a total of 646,881 active voters. Arlington registered more than 3,300 new voters in September, with more than 130,000 active voters total. Alexandria added more than 1,300 new voters last month alone, with 81,847 active voters.

Voting on Election Day at one's home precinct is often a wonderful experience, especially if you are a regular voter. Yes, there will be lines, but if the weather is nice, you can chat with your neighbors and enjoy the process. Assuming you can get to your polling place, the weather is nice and …

In a survey by The Weather Channel last month in battleground states, between 20 and 35 percent of registered voters said that if there is bad weather on Election Day, they would be likely not to vote. Remember that the great Northern Virginia Earthquake was on a Primary Election Day, and that moderately unusual events, weather related and otherwise can turn the commute home into a multi-hour ordeal that could cause many voters to miss the 7 p.m. closing time at the polling places.

There is a way for voters to choose their own Election Day. Pick a day that works for you, check the weather forecast and go vote.

From now until Nov. 3, you can vote absentee in person for a variety of reasons, but you must sign a form affirming that you do qualify. Almost everyone with a job in Northern Virginia qualifies for one particular reason, however: your work plus commute time would be 11 hours or more between 6.a.m. and 7 p.m. on Election Day. Other reasons include planned travel, pregnancy, illness or disability, being a student out of area, and more.

In the City of Alexandria, absentee voting in person continues through Saturday, Nov. 3. Regular hours for in-person absentee voting are Monday - Friday, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays, Oct. 20, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., at the Office of Voter Registration and Elections, 132 North Royal Street, Suite 100.

Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, will be used as a second absentee voting site beginning Thursday, Oct. 25. Beatley will be open for voting Monday to Thursday, noon-8 p.m.; Fridays, noon-6 p.m.; Saturdays, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

In Alexandria, if you use a paper ballot, don't forget to vote both sides of the ballot.

For more on absentee voting in Alexandria, visit http://alexandriava.gov/elections/info/default.aspx?id=1720

Saturday, Nov. 3 is the last day to vote absentee-in-person.

Voters can also vote absentee by mail. The deadline to submit an application to have an absentee ballot mailed to you is Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. The application must be received at the Voter Registration Office by that time. Voters who request a mailed absentee ballot must return them to their local elections office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6, for the ballot to be counted.

It's worth looking at the absentee ballot application online before going to vote absentee in person. http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/Files/Forms/VoterForms/ABApplication.pdf