Virginia Absentee Ballot Guide

Last updated April 10, 2014

Military and Overseas voters should visit FVAP.gov. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

WARNING: If you register to vote by mail, you must vote in person the first time you vote unless you are a full time college student; active duty military or residing overseas; physically handicapped; or age 65+ (with another qualifying reason, as age alone is not a justification).  First-time voters who register in person may vote by absentee ballot but must be registered 5 days before an absentee ballot can be issued.

Important Deadlines

  • Voter Registration Deadline: postmarked 22 days before the election
  • Earliest day to apply for an Absentee Ballot: 365 days before the election (absentee ballots are available 45 days before most elections)
  • Absentee Ballot Application Deadline: Received by 5:00 p.m. the Tuesday before the election if requested by mail. Received 3 days before the election if applying and casting absentee ballot  in person
  • Voted Absentee Ballot: Received by 7:00 pm on Election Day

 How to vote by absentee ballot

Register to vote

Recommended: Use Virginia's online voter resgistration tool. (NOTE: You'll need to provide a valid Virginia DMV-issued ID card number, your Social Security Number, and your date of birth to submit the application electronically.)

You can also use our Voter Registration Tool.  Enter your information, print and sign the completed form, and mail it to the address printed on the form.

Verify your voter registration

It's best to verify your voter registration before applying for your absentee ballot.  If there's a problem with your registration, register again before proceeding.

NOTE: Most people receive their voter registration cards in the mail 2-3 weeks after registering to vote. Don't worry if you lost your voter registration card. You don't actually need it to vote.

Make sure you're eligible to vote by absentee ballot

WARNING: If you register to vote by mail, you must vote in person the first time you vote unless you are a full time college student; active duty military or residing overseas; physically handicapped; or age 65+ (with another qualifying reason, as age alone is not a justification).  First-time voters who register in person may vote by absentee ballot but must be registered 5 days before an absentee ballot can be issued.

All voters: You must meet one of the following requirements to vote by absentee ballot:

  • you will be absent from the county or city in which you are entitled to vote, due to an obligation of business, profession, or occupation or while on personal business or vacation;
  • you are a student, or spouse of a student, attending a school or institution of learning, who will be absent on the day of election from the county or city in which you are entitled to vote;
  • you are unable to go in person to the polls on the day of election because of a disability, illness or pregnancy;
  • you are confined while awaiting trial or for having been convicted of a misdemeanor, provided that the trial or release date is scheduled on or after the third day preceding the election. (If you are awaiting trial and are a resident of the county or city where you are  confined, you may request to be taken to the polls to vote on election day if your trial date is postponed and you did not have an opportunity to vote absentee);
  • you are a member of an electoral board, registrar, officer of election, or custodian of voting equipment;
  • you are duly registered and unable to go in person to the polls on the day of the election because you are primarily and personally responsible for the care of an ill or disabled family member who is confined at home;
  • you are duly registered and unable to go in person to the polls on the day of the election because of an obligation occasioned by your religion;
  • you are (i) an absent active duty member of the US uniformed service (including the US merchant marines), or (ii) a US citizen eligible to vote in Virginia but temporarily outside the US, or (iii) the spouse or dependent residing with any person listed in (i) or (ii) and who will be absent on the day of the election from the county or city in which s/he is entitled to vote;
  • you are a law-enforcement officer, firefighter, volunteer firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel;
  • you are serving as a designated representative of a political party, independent candidate or candidate in a political party.

Contact your County (or City) Registrar if you have any questions about your eligibility.

Apply for your absentee ballot

Download and complete the Virginia Absentee Ballot Application.  Mail or fax your completed application to your County (or City) Registrar. The addresses are on the form. 

Check the status of your absentee ballot application

If you have submitted an application to your local general registrar for an Absentee Ballot for an upcoming election, you can check the status of your absentee ballot application through the State Board of Elections website.

Receive, complete, and return your absentee ballot

The ballot itself is pretty straightforward. Fill it out, sign where indicated, put a stamp on it, and mail it back to your County (or City) Registrar. Your voted ballot must be received by the close of polls on election day in order to be counted.

Virginia Emergency Absentee Ballots

Emergency Absentee Ballot for Sudden Absences

You will qualify for this emergency absentee ballot if you find out after noon on or after the Saturday before the election that you will be be unable to vote at the polls for any of the following reasons:

  • You will be serving as an election officer outside of your assigned voting precint
  • You be out of town due to work
  • You or a family member will be hospitalized on the day before the election or on election day
  • An immediate family member of yours has passed away

You'll need to apply for an emergency absentee ballot in person at your County (or City) Registrar office by 2pm on the day before the election.  

Emergency Absentee Ballots due to Illness

To qualify for the emergency absentee ballot you must: 

  • be hospitalized on or after the seventh day preceding an election; 
  • be hospitalized on or after the fourteenth day before the forthcoming election for  a condition that rendered you unable to request a regular absentee ballot in time; 
  • ill and confined to your residence, bereaved by the death of an immediate relative, or otherwise incapacitated by an emergency which is found by the electoral board to justify providing an emergency ballot application

You must contact your County (or City) Registrar by 2pm on the day before the election if you need an emergency absentee ballot.  You must provide the name of a designated representative who will pick up and return your application and ballot.  Your designated representative must be at least 18 years old and cannot be an elected official, a candidate for elected office, or the relative of an elected official or political candidate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to provide ID when I register to vote in Virginia?

If you are registering for the first time by mail, federal law (the Help America Vote Act) requires you to provide identification. Please enclose a copy of one of the following documents that shows your name and Virginia address with your application: (1) current and valid photo ID, (2) current utility bill, (3) bank statement, (4) government check, (5) paycheck, or (6) other government document. You can also present this required identification at the polls or when you apply for your absentee ballot.

Do I need to provide ID when I vote by absentee ballot in Virginia?

If you registered in person and provided sufficient ID at that time, you won't need to provide ID when you vote absentee.  If you registered to vote by mail, and you did not fulfill the ID requirements at that time, you should include a copy of your ID with your absentee ballot application.  If you don't, you'll be notified by mail that you must provide a copy of your identification in order to receive an absentee ballot.

Acceptable forms of ID include: A current and valid photo ID (for example a driver’s license) that shows your name and Virginia address; or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck that shows name and address; or another government document that shows name and Virginia address (for example a voter card).

How often do I need to apply for an absentee ballot in Virginia?

You'll need to apply separately for each election unless you are physically disabled or incapacitated by illness. 

If you're disabled or ill and likely to remain in this condition for the remainder of the calendar year, you can use apply to vote absentee by mail for all elections during the calendar year by completing the Parts A, B, C, and D of the Virginia Annual Application for an Absentee Ballot due to Physical Disability or Illness.  Have your physician complete Part E of the Annual Application. Mail the completed application to your County (or City) Registrar.

You will be sent absentee ballots for all elections in which you are eligible to vote. In December of every year you will be sent another Annual Application to be completed in order to request ballots for the upcoming election year. This second Annual Application does not need the physician's statement since the first physician's statement will be on file already. 

Can I vote in person before the election in Virginia?

Yes. Check out our Early Voting page for details.

Additional Information

State Election Website: www.sbe.virginia.gov
Email: info@sbe.virginia.gov
Local Election Officials: Your Local Election Official is the best person to contact if you have questions.  They'll be able to provide up-to-date information on rules and deadlines. 

 

Every person who shares helps us reach three more voters.

Sharing this page is the easiest thing you can do to directly increase voter turnout this year.