The Tuesday after the first Monday in November is designated Election Day in the U.S. For millions of Americans who have the national right of democracy, that’s a big deal – both a privilege and a responsibility of being a United States citizen. Federal elections (President, Vice-president and Congress) are held on even-numbered years, with presidential elections being held every fourth year. The Senate and House of Representatives hold elections every two years and the 2014 election is called a mid-term election because it’s between presidential elections. If you paid attention in civics class, you already know that. But do you know how to vote if you’re traveling on Election Day?
In 2014, Election Day will fall on November 4 – two weeks from today. If you are going to be traveling and can’t vote in your designated precinct in person, you still have time to apply for an absentee ballot to vote in person or by mail.
In Virginia, some of the reasons you qualify for absentee voting include:
- You have business or vacation outside county/city of residence on election day
- You are working and commuting to/from home for 11 or more hours between 6am and 7pm on election day
- You are a student (or the spouse of a student) attending college or university outside of your Virginia locality
- You are a first responder (member of law enforcement, fire fighter, emergency technician, search and rescue)
- You are an active duty member of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine (or the spouse of an active duty member)
- You have a disability, illness or are pregnant, or are primary caregiver to a family member who is disabled
- You are temporarily residing outside of US
There are important timelines that must be met for absentee voting.
In Virginia they are:
- Voter Registration Deadline: postmarked 22 days before the election (October 13, 2014). You must already be a registered voter to apply for an Absentee Ballot.
- Earliest day to apply for an Absentee Ballot: 365 days before the election (absentee ballots are available 45 days before most elections)
- Absentee Ballot Application Deadline: Received by 5:00 p.m. the Tuesday before the election (October 28, 2014) if requested by mail. Received 3 days before the election (November 1, 2014) if applying and casting absentee ballot in person. In some circumstances (including work-related absence), Emergency Absentee Ballots are available for sudden absences that occur Saturday before the election.
- Voted Absentee Ballot: Received by 7:00 pm on Election Day (November 4, 2014)
To apply for an Absentee Ballot, download and complete the Virginia Absentee Ballot Application. Mail or fax your completed application to your County (or City) Registrar. The addresses are on the form. Your Absentee Ballot will be mailed to you and you must submit your Absentee Ballot by Election Day.
The act of voting is an important entitlement and duty for American citizens, one that is the cornerstone of our liberty. We also enjoy the right to travel when we choose, but the two are easily combinable by absentee voting. Claim your privilege to both and make your vote count, even as you enjoy the wonders of the larger world!