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Policies and Information
The State Board of Elections (SBE) was created in 1946 as a bipartisan agency responsible for ensuring uniformity, fairness, accuracy and purity in all elections in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The agency promotes the proper administration of election laws, campaign finance disclosure compliance, and voter registration processes in Virginia by promulgating rules, regulations, issuing instructions, and providing information to local electoral boards and general registrars. In addition, the agency maintains a centralized database of state-wide voter registration and election related data.
Applying* to Vote Absentee:
*Military and overseas voters can find specific information on our Military and overseas page.
You can check to see if you absentee application was received, your ballot sent or received by going to our Online Voter Registration.
Before visiting your local registrar's office, check your registration status or call your registrar's office (phone numbers available on Virginia voter registration application). If you are not already registered, you will have to wait five days after registration before you can be issued an absentee ballot (exception for military and overseas voters only). If you have a Virginia DMV license or ID card, you can register online.
Within 45 days prior to the election in which you wish to vote, visit your local registrar's office to vote absentee in-person.
At the registrar's office, fill out an Absentee Application. You must show an acceptable form of ID. To view a complete list of acceptable IDs, please visit our Voting In-Person page.
After completing the application, you will be allowed to vote absentee in-person using a voting machine in the registrar's office. Accessible equipment and/or curbside voting is available upon request.By Mail
- Request an Absentee Application from your local registrar.
- Return the completed form to your local registrar's office.
- After the registrar processes your application, you will receive your ballot in the mail.
- Carefully review the instructions to complete and return your ballot to your local registrar by 7:00 pm on Election Day.
Please note that a family caregiver voting for the first time in your locality is required to vote in person; this first-time vote in person requirement does not apply to persons with disabilities.
Completing an Absentee Ballot Application:In Person
An application completed in person can be made up to three days before the election in which the applicant wishes to vote and completed in the office of the local registrar. The applicant signs the application in the presence of a registrar or the secretary of the electoral board. Some large localities offer satellite locations for in-person absentee voting. Check with your local registrar for locations and times.
An applicant generally cannot both register to vote in person and vote absentee in person at the same time. If you register to vote in person, your absentee ballot cannot be issued until five days after you are registered. The only exception is absent military and overseas voters eligible under a federal law.
Registered voters who vote absentee in person are subject to the same rules that apply to voting at the polls. If acceptable identification is not provided, a provisional ballot will be offered and the voter is allowed until Friday noon after the election to provide a copy of acceptable identification to the electoral board. Provisional voters receive a notice to remind them of the deadline and right to attend the electoral board meeting.By mail
Applications can be sent by mail to the office of the local registrar. The signed and completed application must be received by the local registrar located in the city or county that you are registered to vote by 5:00 PM eastern standard time on the Tuesday prior to the election in which the applicant wishes to vote.
Some first-time voters, including one under age 65 caring for a family member confined by illness, cannot vote absentee by mail. Check with your registrar to confirm absentee by mail eligibility. If your absentee ballot never arrives or there is not enough time to make another request, you can vote curbside on or before election day if you have a physical disability or are over age 65. You may experience delays.
Emergency Absentee Voting:
There are two basic types of emergency absentee voting with different procedures for each:
Incapacity with Designated Representative (Va. Code § 24.2-705)
- Voter became ill or incapacitated on or after the 7th day preceding the election
- Voter became hospitalized on or after the 14th day preceding the election, but still in hospital and condition has made unable to request an absentee ballot earlier than the 7th day before an election
- Bereaved by a "family member" as defined by 24.2-705.1(2)
- Other comparably incapacitating emergency found by the Electoral Board to justify providing an emergency ballot application.
- Designated representative may request through the day before the election
- Completed application must be delivered back to the local registrar's office by 5 p.m. the day before the election
- Voted ballot must be returned before polls close on election day (exception allows designated representative to return the voted ballot)
Voter Plans Change After Noon Saturday (Va. Code § 24.2-705.1)
- Late Assignment of an Election Officer
- Required emergency Travel for Business, Hospitalization or Death in Immediate Family
- Apply and vote in person by 2 p.m. on the day preceding the election
Special Federal ID Requirements for Certain First Time Absentee By Mail Voters
For persons who registered to vote in Virginia by mail, federal law requires them to show identification (ID) when voting for the first time in a federal election if they did not send a copy of one of these IDs with their voter registration applications. Recent legislation has eliminated the differences in acceptable identification for in-person voting. Therefore, the special federal ID requirements only apply to certain absentee voters by mail who will be notified by a notice explaining the requirements sent with their absentree ballot. Voters who receive a notice about this special requirements need to include a copy of any of the following types of ID with the voted ballot:
A current and valid photo ID (for example a driver's license);
or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck that shows name and address;
or another government document that shows name and address (for example a voter card).
If the voter returns an absentee ballot by mail without a copy of one of these forms of ID, the absentee ballot will be treated as a provisional ballot and counted only if the voter provides a copy of ID to the electoral board by the deadline applicable to all voters.