Virginia Absentee Ballot Guide

Last updated March 22, 2016
Military and Overseas voters should visit the Overseas Vote Foundation. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

Warning to First-Time Voters in Virginia:

If you registered to vote by mail, you must vote in person the first time you vote. Exceptions to the first-time rule are: full time college students, active duty military and overseas residents, physically handicapped individuals, and people over 65 who have another qualifying reason (age alone is not a justification).

If you registered to vote in person, you may vote by absentee ballot the first time you vote, but you have to wait 5 days after registering before you can request an absentee ballot.

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 are a student (or the spouse of a student) attending college or university outside of your Virginia locality
  • you have business outside your county/city of residence on election day
  • you have personal business or vacation outside county/city of residence on election day
  • you are working and commuting to/from home for 11 or more hours between 6am and 7pm on election day
  • you are a first responder (member of law enforcement, fire fighter, emergency technician, search and rescue)
  • you have a disability or illness
  • you are primarily and personally responsible for the care of a disabled/ill family member confined at home
  • you are pregnant
  • you are confined, and awaiting trial, or convicted of a misdemeanor
  • you are an electoral board member, registrar, officer of election, or custodian of voting equipment
  • you have a religious obligation that prevents you from voting on election day
  • you are an active duty member of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine (or the spouse of an active duty member)
  • you are temporarily residing outside of US
  • you moved to another state less than 30 days before a presidential election (you will only receive a ballot for the presidential/vice-presidential election; ballots for other offices/issues will not be sent)
  • you are an authorized representative of candidate or party serving inside the polling place

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.

Additional Information

State Election Website:
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. 


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