Virginia is for voters — who have lots of options to do so safely this year. But the Election Day option will look a little different for three polling places on Nov. 3.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, exercising the right to vote has looked unlike any other year in 2020. The requirements to request an absentee ballot have been loosened, ballot drop boxes have been implemented, and early in-person voting has taken place at registrar offices — running from Sep. 18 to Oct. 31.
Still, if people wish to vote at their regular polling places on Election Day, Nov. 3, the safety measures are in place — but some polling places have changed.
As of Oct. 19, within the 5th District, Albemarle County, Appomattox County and Mecklenburg County report adjustments to some polling places.
Branchlands precinct – Hillsdale Conference Center, 550 Hillsdale Dr.
Northside precinct – Laurel Hill Baptist Church, 3595 Grand Forks Blvd.
Stonewall precinct – Gleaning for the World, 7539 State Road
Bluestone precinct – Bluestone Middle School at 250 Middle School Road.
By mid-October, Mecklenburg County had secured approval from its board of supervisors and school board to relocate the Bluestone precinct from Gator’s General Supply Store on State Route 49 to the area’s middle school.
“There’s no space for people to wait if there’s a line except for outside in a gravel parking lot,” Corwin said of Gator’s General Supply. “We’d only be allowed to let about 2 people in at a time to vote.”
Corwin said in moving that polling location to the nearby school’s gym will be safer and more convenient for voters who choose to vote on Election Day.
In the meantime, early in-person voting has been underway since Sep. 18 at local registrar offices. Similar safety protocol will be happening at polling locations on Nov. 3.
Protocol entails the use of masks or other personal protective equipment, continuous cleaning of pens and surfaces, along with physical distancing requirements while inside and in lines along with the placement of hand sanitizer throughout.
Though Nelson County is among many in the 5th Congressional District to maintain its polling locations on Election Day, its assistant registrar, Rachel Snapp, says that various PPE and sanitizers will be employed on Nov. 3.
“We’ll have all the same locations, but lots of safety precautions,” Snapp said.
Meanwhile, Pittsylvania Registrar Kelly Keessee said that while no polling locations are physically changing addresses this year, it is possible that some locations could alter where voting happens within the facility, such as moving voting from school cafeterias into school gyms to allow for more physical distancing.
“We would obviously have signage for those situations to direct people,” Keessee said.
She also inferred that voter turnout on Nov. 3 could be lower than previous years based on the amount of early voting that has already happened.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, as of Oct. 19, almost two million Virginians have already voted between early in-person or absentee ballots. Meanwhile, over 500,000 ballots have been mailed out but not yet returned throughout the state as some voters may be carefully weighing their options — ranging from congressional and presidential candidates, to state constitutional amendments.
For those who are undecided until Nov. 3, or prefer to vote on that day, polling places can be looked up by registered voters on the Virginia Department of Elections website.