Editorial: Vote Now

Editorial: Vote Now

How to Register, Vote, Vote Early.

Changes in Virginia's voter identification rules are causing confusion in many quarters, and some voters might be tempted to stay home rather than deal with a difficult situation. What about your 92-year-old mother who hasn't driven in almost a decade? Do you need to schlep her to the DMV to get her a photo ID before November?

Slow down, there are alternatives, including a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the name and address of the voter.

Acceptable forms of identification include: Virginia voter identification card (due to arrive in the mail next week); current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the name and address of the voter; valid Virginia driver's license; military ID; any Federal, Virginia state or local government-issued ID; employer issued photo ID card; concealed handgun permit; valid student ID issued by any institution of higher education located in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

How important is it for Virginia voters to turn out on or before Nov. 6? As a critical “battleground” state, Virginia will be key in determining who will be the next President of the United States. Who will represent Virginia in the U.S. Senate is also too close to call. Since polling shows that there are very few undecided voters in the Commonwealth, every eligible voter will want to be sure to cast a ballot. Turnout in Northern Virginia could determine who is president and which party controls the U.S. Senate.

This is a high-participating, politically engaged area.

Fairfax County, with a population of just more than 1.1 million people, has 717,105 registered voters as of Aug. 31, 2012.

And consider that in 2008, 79 percent of Fairfax County's registered voters turned out at the polls.

The City of Alexandria has a population of about 144,000 with 103,445 registered voters as of Aug. 31, 2012.

Arlington has a population of about 216,000 and 160,326 registered voters as of Aug. 31, 2012.

When you consider the sheer numbers of people likely to go to vote on Election Day, wouldn't it make sense to go and vote early?

Virtually every voter in Virginia is eligible to vote absentee, which includes voting in-person absentee at a variety of locations. Absentee voting began Sept. 21 and will continue through Nov. 2.

There are many reasons that voters are allowed to vote absentee, but the most broad of these applies to almost anyone with a job: “Any person who, in the regular and orderly course of his business, profession, or occupation, will be at his place of work and commuting to and from his home to his place of work for 11 or more hours of the 13 that the polls are open (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.).

See http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/absentee_voting/index.html for a complete list of acceptable reasons to vote absentee, links to download a request for an absentee ballot and other instructions.

You can download an absentee ballot and mail it to your local voter registration office, or you can vote “absentee in person.”

To vote on Election Day, you must be registered at your current address no later than Oct. 15, 2012. You can check your registration status online by going to www.sbe.virginia.gov. There you can also download a voter registration form and mail it to the elections office address, listed above.

Absentee In-person Voting in the City of Alexandria

In-person absentee voting starts Friday, Sept. 21 at 8 a.m. and ends Saturday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m.

Regular hours for in-person absentee voting are Monday - Friday, from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the Office of Voter Registration and Elections, 132 North Royal Street, Suite 100 (the office is closed on Monday, Oct. 8).

Beatley Library will be used as a second absentee voting site beginning Thursday, Oct. 25.

More details, including dates of extended hours at http://alexandriava.gov/elections/info/default.aspx?id=1720

More Election Information

Alexandria Board of Elections, 703-746-4050, http://alexandriava…

132 North Royal Street, Alexandria, 22314; FAX 703-838-6449; email tom.parkins@alexand…

State Board of Elections, 804 864-8901 Toll Free: 800 552-9745 FAX: 804 371-0194

email: info@sbe.virginia.g…