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ELECTION 2020: Early voting starts Friday in Virginia
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ELECTION 2020: Early voting starts Friday in Virginia

From the Martinsville-region COVID-19/coronavirus daily update from state, nation and world: Sept 18 series
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{child_flags:editors_pick}Your ballots are ready to be marked

{child_byline}By Bill Wyatt

bill.wyatt@martinsvillebulletin.com

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The Henry County Registrar’s office is all dressed up for Friday, the first day of early voting for the 2020 election cycle.

You don’t have to wait until 6 a.m. on Nov. 3 and possibly stand in a line under pandemic-defined conditions — delays for cleaning and 6 feet of spacing — to cast your ballot either in person or by mail.

You know that President Donald Trump is facing Democrat Joe Biden and Libertarian Jo Jorgensen on that ballot. Incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D) also is facing the challenge of Republican Daniel Gade. Some of you will choose a new representative in the 5th Congressional District.

Because their has been a lot of political rhetoric about the security and advisability of voting by mail, we thought you might have a few questions that we anticipate and answer.

How

is COVID-19 going to affect the process this year?

In Virginia, the early voting period begins today and runs until Saturday, Oct. 31. In order to vote early, you will need to go to your local registrar’s office and be sure to bring an acceptable form of ID. You will also have to follow the rules of the building you are visiting.

For instance at the Martinsville Municipal Building, you are required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. When you enter the building, your temperature will be scanned, and you will need to complete a questionnaire. Once you are inside for in-person voting, only two people will be allowed in the public area of the registrar’s office at a time, and with the anticipated increase of absentee voting this year, don’t be surprised if you will have to wait for a short time.

It’s business as usual in Henry County, with the registrar’s offices open from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Protective shields are in place at the front desk. That office is experiencing higher call volumes with inquiries about where to vote, the status of registration, this year’s requirements and early voting.

Patrick County registrar’s offices are also operating as usual, with social distancing in place and increased cleaning of high contact areas.

Who is my local registrar?

If you live in Martinsville, it’s Cynthia Barbour. Her phone number is 276-403-5122 and her email is cbarbour@ci.martinsville.va.us. If you live in Henry County, it’s Elizabeth Stone. Her phone number is 276-638-5108 and her email is estone@co.henry.va.us. For Patrick County residents, your registrar is Susan Taylor. Her phone number is 276-694-7206 and her email is staylor@co.patrick.va.us.

Are

my local officials equipped to handle this year’s election during a pandemic?

In Martinsville the registrar’s offices are small with a limited number of staff and space available for conducting an election under normal conditions. This year the Electoral Board will be assisting with the mailing and absentee in-person voting, and the philosophy appears to be that — “Many prayers and everyone’s patience, it will work.”

Henry County has added additional staffing to assist with the process and mitigate the additional work involved with the increase in absentee ballot application processing.

Patrick County has increased their staff for this year’s election, and the registrar expressed confidence that her office is prepared to handle the new workload.

What hours are the polls open?

They are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. As long as you are in line by 7 p.m., you will be able to vote. Curbside voting is available at polling locations for voters with special needs and social distancing and masks are recommended for those voting inside the polling area. But there are more early voting opportunities this year, and it’s easier to vote by mail.

Do I need to bring proof that I am registered to vote?

No, but you do need a qualifying ID. Acceptable forms of identification include: voter confirmation documents, Virginia driver’s license, Virginia DMV-issued ID, U.S. passport, employer-issued ID, student ID issued by a community college or university in the U.S., U.S. or Virginia government-issued ID, tribal ID, Virginia voter photo ID card or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck.

What about the drop boxes?

The General Assembly passed legislation to set up drop boxes for absentee ballots, so they won’t have to be mailed.

How many people are registered to vote this year?

In Martinsville, there are 8,700 registered voters.

In Henry County, voter registration has increased from about 35,000 to 36,000 since 2016.

Patrick County has 12,532 registered voters.

I’ve heard there is a need for poll workers on Election Day?

Martinsville and Henry and Patrick counties are in need of additional poll workers and people willing to serve as alternates in case someone drops out at the last minute.

To be a poll worker in Henry County, you must attend training in October and agree to work at a designated precinct from 5 a.m to 9 p.m. on Election Day. If you want to help or have questions, call your registrar in Martinsville at 276-403-5122, in Henry County at 276-634-4697 or in Patrick County at 276-694-7206.

Bill Wyatt is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin, created these responses from interviews with Martinsville Registrar Cindy Barbour and Patrick County Registrar Susan Taylor. Henry County Registrar Elizabeth Stone deferred questions to Henry County Electoral Board Member Ellen Boone, who provided answers specific to Henry County. Information was also obtained from the Virginia Board of Elections. Additional information may be found at www.elections.virginia.gov/registration/election-voter-faq/.

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Bill Wyatt, a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin, created these responses from interviews with Martinsville Registrar Cindy Barbour and Patrick County Registrar Susan Taylor. Henry County Registrar Elizabeth Stone deferred questions to Henry County Electoral Board Member Ellen Boone, who provided answers specific to Henry County. Information was also obtained from the Virginia Board of Elections. Additional information may be found at www.elections.virginia.gov/registration/election-voter-faq/.

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{child_related_content}{child_related_content_item}{child_related_content_style}Bio Box{/child_related_content_style}{child_related_content_title}More election information{/child_related_content_title}{child_related_content_content}

More details about voting in Virginia, Page A7.

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Bill Wyatt, a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin, created these responses from interviews with Martinsville Registrar Cindy Barbour and Patrick County Registrar Susan Taylor. Henry County Registrar Elizabeth Stone deferred questions to Henry County Electoral Board Member Ellen Boone, who provided answers specific to Henry County. Information was also obtained from the Virginia Board of Elections. Additional information may be found at www.elections.virginia.gov/registration/election-voter-faq/.

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