Major media jabber about possible problems with this fall’s election and changes in the way it’s to be conducted has led to confusion among some voters.

Joe Schlatter of Northumberland County’s electoral board said that the registrar of voting has gotten a lot of phone calls from people who think the only way to vote is by absentee ballot, which isn’t so.

“It’s a normal election in November,” Schlatter said. “Absentee voting is only a convenience.”

Actually, there are four ways to vote this year. Voters can go to the polls on November 3, vote early at the registrar’s office starting September 18, vote by mail or vote by absentee ballot. Since there is no longer any requirement that voters have a reason to vote by absentee ballot, such ballots are not really different from mail-in ballots.

A sixth precinct has been created at the registrar’s office in Heathsville. To limit Coronavirus concerns, the precinct will be setup in a tent behind the office and voting will be accomplished as it is at regular precincts on election day. Registered voters need to simply go the precinct, present an ID, which need not be a photo ID, Schlatter noted, and cast their ballot.

The early voting precinct will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday until the actual election. It will also be open on October 24 and 31.

For mail-in ballots or absentee ballots, the registrar may be called. Additionally, absentee ballots may be requested through the Virginia Board of Elections website. Both may be hand carried to the registrar’s office or mailed. Voters can only deliver their own ballots.

Schlatter said he doesn’t expect any mail delays with ballots in Northumberland since all will be local mail. He said if a voter hasn’t received their ballot within a week of asking for it, they should inquire about it. Once voters get their ballots, they should vote and send them in or deliver them right away. “Don’t sit on that ballot,” Schlatter advises.

Voters are apparently worried about Coronavirus. Schlatter said that in 2016, the county had 700 absentee ballots. This year 800 voters have already asked for them.

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