In-person voting for the issues and candidates on the Nov. 3 ballots is beginning early this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and worries that votes mailed in wouldn’t reach the voter registrars in time.
The “no excuse absentee voting” means any registered voter may request an absentee ballot, either in person or by mail. Voters can request a mailed ballot at elections.virginia.gov/voterInformation. They can also find a vote-by-mail ballot form at elections.virginia.gov/forms.
The last day to request an absentee ballot is Friday, Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by the local voter registration office by noon on Friday, Nov. 6. Voters can also drop off their marked and sealed ballots at a drop-off location at their local voter registration office or polling place up to 7 p.m. Nov.3.
Voters can track the status of their ballot applications at www.elections.virginia.gov/voterInformation. They can also call their local registrar’s office to determine the status of their application.
Early voting for Franklin County residents can be done at the county government building at 1255 Franklin St., Suite 106 in Rocky Mount. Early in-person voting will be available Monday through Friday until Oct. 30 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. The office will not be open on Columbus Day, Oct. 12.
Obviously this is a presidential election year, but Franklin County voters will also vote on whether the Confederate monument on Franklin County courthouse grounds stays or goes. Debates over the monument have been raging online for the past few months now, even being the subject of local protests.
Supervisors voted in July to place an issue on the ballot asking residents if the Confederate monument should be moved from the county courthouse to a location of historical significance.
Citizens continue to attend the monthly meetings questioning supervisors’ decision to put the issue of removing the Confederate monument as a referendum on the November ballot. One speaker told supervisors during their Sept. 15 they knew that they had the votes to keep the statue where it was when they put it as a referendum. The Black population in Franklin County is less than 10%.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill in April granting the power to individual localities to remove Confederate monuments in their communities.
The issue put forth to voters this election is only an advisory referendum. Supervisors will still have to make a decision once the votes are in.
It will be interesting to see if a decision is reached by year’s end. With mail-in voting expected to be high in volume this year, we likely won’t see results on Nov. 3 like we usually anticipate. We hope the votes will all be counted within days — not weeks — after the election ends and that there will be clear margins for all candidates and issues so there can’t be any question as to the results.