Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

September 26, 2013

Vote now: Absentee balloting underway in Va.

— — It’s being called one of the ugliest and most negative gubernatorial races in recent history for the Commonwealth of Virginia. And now Virginia-side voters can begin casting early absentee ballots in this closely watched contest.

Mudslinging between Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli and  Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe has reached alarming levels in recent weeks. Both men are hoping to succeed outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell in the Nov. 5 general election.

Cuccinelli has already appeared before the Daily Telegraph editorial board, but repeated attempts by this newspaper to schedule an in-person editorial board interview with McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, have been unsuccessful to date. Historically, all candidates for governor in both Virginia and West Virginia have appeared before the Daily Telegraph’s editorial board to discuss their candidacy and answer questions of local interest to voters in Southwest Virginia. Our invitation to McAuliffe to appear before the editorial board still stands.

But the gubernatorial race isn’t the only contest on Virginia’s ballot. Local seats on the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, and the Tazewell County School Board, also will be determined Nov. 5, along with the 3rd Legislative District contest between incumbent Delegate James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell, and Democratic challenger James M. O’Quinn.

Absentee balloting for the Nov. 5 contest is already underway. Residents of Southwest Virginia can request an absentee ballot by mail, or vote absentee in person at their local voter registration office. In Tazewell County, several voters have already requested an absentee ballot, according to county registrar Brian Earls.

In order to vote absentee, residents must be registered to vote in Virginia and must meet one of several requirements listed on the Virginia absentee ballot. For example, if a voter is a college student who attends classes out of the area, he or she may vote absentee. If a voter knows he or she will be away on business or on vacation on Nov. 5, he or she may also vote absentee. If a voter has a disability or illness that would keep them from waiting in long lines at the polls on Nov. 5, they also may cast an absentee ballot. The same goes for local residents who are serving in the military. A full list of absentee voting eligibility requirements can be obtained by visiting a local voter registration office or the Virginia State Board of Election’s online website at www.sbe.virginia.gov.

Earls said the voter registration office at the Tazewell County Courthouse also will be open on Saturday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 2, to accommodate absentee voters.

We urge all eligible voters in Virginia — particularly those who think they may not be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 5 — to take advantage of absentee voting. The last day to vote absentee in person at your local courthouse is Saturday, Nov. 2, so there is plenty of time to cast an absentee ballot.

But, most importantly, please vote. It doesn’t matter if you cast an early absentee ballot or wait until Nov. 5, as long as you do vote. Let your voice and opinion be heard. Don’t let this all-important opportunity pass you by.

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