Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 27, 2012

Now voting — Ballots being cast in battleground Va.

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— It’s one of only a handful of battleground states that will play a pivotal role in determining who the next president of the United States will be. Both President Barack Obama, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, have been campaigning across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Vice President Joe Biden has already been to the town of Wytheville, and it’s probably only a matter of time before Romney or his running mate Paul Ryan end up in Southwest Virginia.

Clearly, Virginia is once again in the national spotlight for this year’s presidential election. And absentee voting in the Commonwealth is already underway.

Considering all of the attention Virginia is getting in this year’s presidential race, it comes as no surprise that voter registration officials are seeing a surge in new voter registrations, and an increase in the number of voters who are requesting absentee ballots. The last day to cast an absentee ballot in person in Virginia is Nov. 3 All mail-in absentee ballots must be returned by Oct. 27. The last day to register to vote for the Nov. 6 presidential election in Virginia is Monday, Oct. 15.

In Tazewell County, more than 86 absentee ballots have already been mailed out, according to county Registrar Deborah Barrett. Several others have already voted absentee in person.

A voter must meet one of 18 categories in order to qualify for casting an absentee ballot in Virginia. These qualifying requirements include a student being away at college on Nov. 6; a voter being out of town on personal business on Nov. 6; a voter having a disability or illness that would keep he or she from being able to vote on Nov. 6; or a voter currently serving in the military.

Voters in Virginia are also being reminded of changes to the voting process due to the passage of new Virginia voter ID laws.

“They must have an accepted form of ID in order to cast their ballot,” Barrett said. “A voter’s ID, Virginia driver’s license or student ID card from any in-state Virginia college will work. Voters can no longer vote by merely signing the affirmation of identity form. They must have ID in order to vote due to the new laws that were passed by the governor.”

Voters in West Virginia who are hoping to cast an early ballot in the presidential election will have to wait a little bit longer.

Early voting in West Virginia begins on Wednesday, Oct. 24. The last day to early vote is Saturday, Nov. 3. As in past elections, early voting in Mercer County will be held next month at both the Mercer County Courthouse and the Bluefield City Auditorium.

While residents of West Virginia will have to wait a while longer before they can cast a ballot, voters in the battleground state of Virginia can vote today if they meet one of the 18 categories required for absentee balloting.

Considering all the attention the candidates are placing on Virginia, and the fact that the Commonwealth could very well determine who wins the race for the White House, every ballot cast in Virginia will most certainly count.

That’s why every registered voter in Virginia should most certainly cast a ballot. And if you meet the proper guidelines, you can vote now instead of waiting until Nov. 6.