Early voting, also called advance polling or pre-poll voting is a convenient voting process by which voters in a public election can vote before a scheduled election day. Early voting can take place remotely, such as via postal voting, or in person, usually in designated early voting polling stations. The availability and time periods for early voting vary among jurisdictions and types of elections. The goals of early voting are usually to increase voter participation and relieve congestion at polling stations on election day. It may also avoid possible discrimination against people with work and travel schedules that may effectively prohibit them from getting to the polls during the hours provided on a single election day.
The categories of people who vote early include those who will be out of the polling area during the election period, poll workers, campaign workers, people with medical procedures scheduled for that time, and adherents to religious commitments, among others.
The number of voters who vote early has increased in recent years. As unconditional (no excuse) early voting has gained ground. Some critics have condemned the process as damaging to the democratic process.
Early voting in Virginia 2021 elections
One can vote early at your local registrar’s office beginning 45 days before Election Day and ending the Saturday before Election Day. Before visiting your local registrar’s office, you may wish to check your registration status or call your registrar’s office. You can find your registrar’s phone number here. To vote early in person, do the following:
- 45 days before Election Day, visit your local registrar’s office or a satellite voting location in your county or city. Remember, the Saturday before Election Day is the last day to vote early.
- You do not have to have a reason or fill out an application to vote early.
- At the registrar’s office or satellite voting location, you must provide your name and address. Also, show an acceptable form of ID or sign an ID Confirmation Statement. To view a complete list of acceptable IDs, please visit our page. If acceptable identification is not provided, you must sign an ID Confirmation Statement. A provisional ballot will be offered and you are allowed until the Friday at noon following the election to provide a copy of acceptable identification to the electoral board. You may also sign an ID Confirmation Statement. Provisional voters receive a notice to remind them of the deadline and right to attend the electoral board meeting.
- Accessible equipment and/or curbside voting is available upon request.
Additional early voting office locations
Some localities have established early voting locations in addition to the General Registrar’s Office. Any voter in the locality may visit the General Registrar’s Office or an early voting site to vote in person or drop off their mailed absentee ballot.