2012 marks a big change when it comes to voting in the Commonwealth of Virginia. There are many new voting identification standards, and you need to be prepared to produce the proper ID before you vote or your ballot may not be counted right away.
Here is a step by step procedure to make sure you are ready to vote:
FIRST- make sure you are registered.
If you have ever voted before, chances are you don't need to do anything. Your registration carries over from year to year. It does not need to be renewed and it never expires. If you aren't 100% sure if you are registered it is easy to find out.
Click on this link, from the State Board of Elections. Input your information and it will tell you if you are registered and where to go to vote.
If you aren't registered, follow the easy steps to get yourself on the voting roles on the BOE website.
KEEP IN MIND, YOU MUST BE REGISTERED BY OCTOBER 15, 2012 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 2012 ELECTION.
SECOND- make sure your address hasn't changed since the last time you voted.
You don't ever have to renew your registration, but if you move out of your voting district you must inform the board of elections of your move. It will likely mean that you will cast a ballot in a different location and it could mean that you will be voting for different people in local elections.
You can check to make sure that your current address matches the address online with the Board of Elections right here.
THIRD- prepare to cast your ballot by making sure that you the have the correct form of ID before you go to the polls.
This is the biggest change. In the past there was a small group of things you could use as a valid ID, but if you didn't have one, you were still able to cast your ballot. Now if you don't have the appropriate form of ID, you can still cast your ballot, but it will be set aside until you can produce the correct documents.
While there is a more strict process to prove your identification, there are many more forms of ID that are now accepted.
Here is the full list of acceptable forms of identifications at the voting booth:
Virginia voter registration card
Valid Virginia driver's license
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
Current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck indicating the name and address of the voter
Social Security card (*there are special ID requirements for federal elections regarding Social Security cards, see the full explantion on the Board of Elections web site.)
If for some reason you don't have one of these potential forms of ID, but you are registered, check your mail because every single active voter will be mailed a Virginia Voter ID card starting this week. That is sufficent enough to gain access to the voting booth.
The state board of elections has produced this very handy how-to video to explain what you need to be aware of when you head to the polls:
KEEP IN MIND.. A photo ID is accepted but is NOT REQUIRED. Please refer to the list above and make sure that you have one of those forms of ID to make sure you are prepared to vote.
FOURTH- prepare to vote absentee if you won't be able to vote in person on election day.
An absentee ballot counts the same as voting in person. You must apply for an absentee ballot 45 days before election day. All the information you need can be found on the State Board of Elections web site.
Any more questions? The State Board of Elections has revamped their web site with many easy to use features that can help you make sure you are ready.
Check out everything they have to offer at www.sbe.virginia.gov.
Finally.. if you run into any trouble registering, casting a ballot or getting an absentee ballot let us know. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone deserves the right to vote and we want to make sure that you don't run into any trouble when you are given the opportunity to have your voice heard.